Premiere: “Mudimbe’s Order of Things” with Jean-Pierre Bekolo in Attendance

Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
10 Feb 2015

Premiere: “Mudimbe’s Order of Things” with Jean-Pierre Bekolo in Attendance

In cooperation with Berlinale Forum, AfricAvenir premieres Jean-Pierre Bekolo’s new documentary “Mudimbe’s Order of Things”, a portrait of one of Africa’s most important still living philosophers with director Jean-Pierre Bekolo in attendance and followed by a conversation with Brigitta Kuster.

Jean Pierre Bekolo’s documentary film consists of an autobiographical interview of one of Africa’s living most profound and versatile philosophers, Valentin Yves Mudimbe.

Mudimbe was born in 1941 in Likasi, then the Belgian Congo and today the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At first he studied economics in Kinshasa, later getting his doctorate in Romance Philology in Paris. The linguistic genius – he speaks around 10 languages and can read in another 8 – has taught at a large number of prestigious universities in the world, in France, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, Great Britain, Israel, and Germany. In 1979 Mudimbe emigrated to the USA, where he is still Professor Emeritus at Duke University. In his work, which has received numerous awards, Mudimbe is concerned with the past and present of Africa between tradition and European influence, and with the processes of breakup and destruction caused by colonialism, missionary activity, and development aid. For instance, his novel Shaba deux, which came out in 1978, treats the horrible events under the Mobutu dictatorship. His novel “Le Bel Immonde” (1976) appeared in German in 1982 under the title “Auch wir sind schmutzige Flüsse” and in English in 1989 as “Before the Birth of the Moon”. His monographs “The Invention of Africa” (1988) and “The Idea of Africa”, in which he attempts to liberate Africa from its positioning as the ‘absolute other’ in Western thought, are considered classics and their significance is often compared to Edward Said’s Orientalism.

In this interactive documentary, Jean Pierre Bekolo and Mudimbe bring philosophy home to the common person by punctuating complex views on burning political occurrences and rigorous philosophical issues with narratives on Mudimbe’s personal life. Organized like a book, in which new chapters are continually being opened up, introduced each time with handwritten text panels, the film inserts itself into this highly complex thought, this biography that practically covers the whole globe. The house where Mudimbe lives becomes a structure that houses this life and thought, and thus the film. Only at the very end does the camera come to rest in a shot that can be taken as inviting. Precisely in its tenacity, the film unfolds into an architecture of alternating perspectives, it creates configurations, it traces assemblages that embody the knowledge and thought of Mudimbe: never conclusive, always in connection


Jean-Pierre Bekolo, born in 1966, is one of the most well-known filmmakers in Cameroon. He already garnered attention at the Cannes Film Festival with his debut film Quartier Mozart (1992), becoming the representative of a new generation, following that of Djibril Diop Mambéty – in homage to whom Bekolo made La grammaire de grand-mère (1996) – that has been working against the restrictive expectations of African cinema, mixing genres and linking pop with politics. He produced LE COMPLOT D’ARISTOTE (1996) for the British Film Institute as part of a series that has included the participation of artists such as Scorsese, Bertolucci, and Godard. His avant-garde political thriller LES SAIGNANTES (2005) was nominated in two categories at the French Césars in 2009. In 2013 his feature film LE PRÉSIDENT was banned in Cameroon for political reasons. Alongside his work as a film director, Bekolo writes and publishes, in addition to teaching at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and at Duke University. Recently he has been dividing his time between the USA, France, and Cameroon, and starting in the summer of 2015 he will be a fellow of the Artists Program at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Berlin.


a Jean-Pierre Bekolo Film
followed by a conversation with Brigitta Kuster

10th February 2015, 12:00 – 15:00

Akademie der Künste
Hanseatenweg 10
10557 Berlin


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