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Black


Sponsored by: CIBL

Canadian Premiere

  • France 2008
  • 92 min
  • 35mm
  • French with English subtitles
Hosted by actor MC Jean Gab’1, director Pierre Laffargue and producer Lauranne Bourrachot

Official Selection, SXSW 2009

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“Gloriously lunatic… percolates like that first, strong cup of coffee in the morning—with no bitter aftertaste” — Peter Martin, CINEMATICAL

“Recall[s] the conceit of Blaxploitation films, but in a thoroughly modern and artistic way” —Harry Knowles, AINT IT COOL NEWS

Credits

Director: Pierre Laffargue
Screenplay: Pierre Laffargue, Lucio Mad, Gábor Rassov
Cast: MC Jean Gab'1, Carole Karemera, François Levantal, Anton Yakovlev
Producers: Lauranne Bourrachot, Marco Cherqui
Distributor: Evokative Films

Description

It’s a day like any other for most Parisians, but not for Black. The Senegalese-born tough guy and his two partners in crime, disguised as garbagemen, are en route to the scene of a heist they have planned when a mysterious African shaman plants himself in front of their truck, stares Black in the eye and declares him the vessel of the lion spirit, an African champion in the making. Black doesn’t take this too seriously, and it’s the last thing on his mind when the robbery goes horribly wrong, leaving his associates dead. Holed up in his apartment soon after, Black gets a call from a long-lost cousin back home. A briefcase of valuable diamonds has been deposited in a bank in the Senegalese capitol, one with very poor security measures. Sounds like an easy job for Black and his handpicked crew, who are soon on a plane to Dakar. But what they don’t know is that they’re not the only ones with plans for those diamonds—and the witchdoctor’s words to Black may not have been the mere ramblings of a madman.

Building outward from the stylish, clever, cosmopolitan heist-flick template of the likes of Guy Ritchie, this quick-paced and action-packed debut feature film from Pierre Laffargue sweetens the deal with its Senegalese setting and a supernatural twist. The African scenery, from the rough, ramshackle shanties of urban Dakar to the sparsely splendid countryside, provide a vivid backdrop to the complex web of criminal intrigue, and to Black’s fraught reintegration into his mother culture. French-Cameroonian rapper MC Jean Gab’1, previously seen in the BANLIEUE 13 films, is gripping in the lead role, bringing as much charm, wit and substance as forceful physical presence to his portrayal of Black’s evolution from hood to hero. Carole Karemera, meanwhile, sizzles as his tough, sexy female foil. And let’s not forget the magnificent soundtrack, a wealth of au courant African grooves that bolster BLACK’s self-assured flow.

—Rupert Bottenberg

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