Pour voir la vidéo: http://Karmen-vu-par
"Karmen" Analysed by Joanna Grabski ...
Karmen Gei Written and directed by Joseph Gai Ramaka, produced by Richard Sadler 82 minutes, color 2001, Senegal In French and Wolof with English subtitles VHS distributed by California Newsreel and DVD distributed by Kino International
Based loosely on Georges Bizet's 1875 opera Carmen, Karmen Gei is the first African film musical of this frequently adapted tale. (1) In Karmen Gei, Senegalese filmmaker Joseph Gai Ramaka deploys several creative interventions to re-imagine the legendary story from 1820's Spain to postcolonial, urban Senegal. Gai Ramaka is not especially invested in delivering a faithful rendition of the well-known Carmen plot. Rather, his production focuses on exploring both the exuberance and destructive power of Karmen's character. Gai Ramaka takes the Carmen prototype, originally a free-spirited gypsy, and reframes her within the prism of Senegalese life in particular and postcolonial Africa in general. In this frame, Karmen is not just an independent, free-spirited woman whose voracious carnal desire leads to her tragic fate. She is also an outlaw, sexual maverick, and political dissident. Within the first ten minutes of the film, Gai Ramaka establishes Karmen as a veritable force of nature capable of destabilizing anyone and anything in her path. As the chorus of women inmates sings, "Be careful! Hide your women, hide your men. Karmen has come! She who creates havoc is here."
The key ingredient of the Carmen legend is the relationship among the protagonist Karmen, singer Massigi (Escamillo the toreador in the Bizet version), and the corporal Lamine Diop (Don Jose in the Bizet version) whose life she ruins and who eventually kills her. In this version, Gai Ramaka further complicates the love triangle with the character of Angelique, the prison warden whom Karmen seduces, thereby ensuring her escape from Kumba Kastel women's prison. (2) Gai Ramaka's inclusion of Karmen's relationship with Angelique is both the most avant-garde aspect of his adaptation and the most essential to the story's postcolonial perspective. As suggested by her name, the comparatively fair-skinned Angelique provides an important antithesis to Karmen's "devilish" character. Because Angelique is Christian, as demonstrated by her funeral, and a prison warden, she represents the authority of the former colonizers. Karmen, on the other hand, embodies the counterpoint to and collapse of all that Angelique represents. After realizing that she can never truly possess Karmen, the despondent Angelique commits suicide by drowning herself in the seemingly boundless ocean off Goree Island's coast.
Set within the postcolonial context, Karmen's unbridled freedom poses a threat to the colonial and patriarchal structures that can neither control nor contain her. Although Karmen's sexuality serves her pleasure, it is also her tool of power, for it embodies the means by which she challenges and destroys symbols of authority, including the prison warden Angelique and army corporal Lamine Diop. Along the same lines, Karmen's bisexuality indicates her full sexual liberation from heterosexual patriarchy. Her "emancipation" thus raises a compelling question about women and sexual politics in Senegalese society: What power do women possess to topple the structures of authority? Like the films of fellow Senegalese Ousmane Sembene, Gai Ramaka's production praises the might of women. Several scenes are crucial to constructing this motif. In addition to the beach scene where Karmen extols women's strength to Massigi, the lengthy musical scene at Karmen's mother's bar also references female Senegalese historical figures renowned for their heroism, bravery, and tragedy. It is here that we meet Massigi who, like a griot, recounts the legacies of Aline Sitoe and the women of Nder. (3)
Compared to films by Senegalese filmmakers, including Ousmane Sembene and Djibril Diop Mambety, known for their slow pace, serious tone, and sociopolitical didacticism, Gai Ramaka "s production might be characterized as ente...
SHOWING OF "KARMEN GEI"
8:15 PM @ Fair Grinds Coffeehouse - 3133 Ponce deLeon - New Orleans, LA 70119
Announcing an Outstanding Opportunity to see an African film and its director which has garnered accolades and awards, attention and controversy. Joseph Gai Ramaka, a celebrated filmmaker, studied Filmmaking and Visual Anthropology in Paris. Over the last 15 years he has written and directed many documentary and feature films, founded production and distribution companies in France and Senegal, and is a prominent activist for freedom of the press throughout Africa and the world. "Karmen Gei" (86 mins.), a modern adaptation of Bizet's opera Carmen, caused a storm of controversy in Senegal due to its bold portrayal of religion and sexuality. The film has been effectively banned in Senegal, largely due to a protest over its use of a sacred Muslim text in a Catholic funeral scene. Also banned in Senegal, Ramaka's last project is a film "essay" blending documentary and fiction. And "What if Latif were Right!/Et si Latif avait raison!" (95 mins.) is a strenuous critique of the regime of Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, a fiery opposition leader for four decades before his landslide election in 2000. Wade's increasing restrictions on the media and free expression are the focus of Ramaka's hard-hitting new film. "Karmen Gei" will be shown at Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, as a part of Michael Tannen's Film Club February 20 at 8:15. The film is FREE and the director will be present. Robert Thompson, owner Fair Grinds Coffeehouse 3133 Ponce deLeon New Orleans, LA 70119 (504) 913-9072 fairgrinds.com email@example.com
Fair Grinds Coffeehouse - 3133 Ponce deLeon -
New Orleans, LA 70119
Le samedi 08 septembre 2001, "près de 300 personnes armées de coupe-coupe, de machettes et de gourdins", se sont regroupées devant le cinéma "Bel'Arte" pour s’opposer à la projection du film Karmen du réalisateur Joseph Gaï Ramaka.
Mobilisés aux aurores par une radio privée, ces manifestants menaçaient de brûler tout à la fois, la salle, le réalisateur et le premier rôle féminin. En dépit d’un important déploiement des forces de la gendarmerie il n'y a eu, dans une République où "force reste à la loi", ni confiscation des armes brandies par une foule poussée par la violence, ni interpellation.
Au contraire, les seules mesures prises ont eu pour résultats de jeter le discrédit sur l’auteur et les acteurs de Karmen et de leur causer un préjudice financier important.
En effet, les autorités gouvernementales ont annoncé par voie de presse, la suspension du film ; la salle de projection du « Bel’Arte » a été mise sous scellés par le Centre International du Commerce Extérieur du Sénégal – CICES ; le Directeur du CICES refuse depuis le mois de septembre 2001, de restituer les seules copies disponibles du film, bloquant ainsi sa promotion et sa commercialisation en Afrique.
Réactions de solidarité, félicitations et ovations publiques, reconnaissance internationale à travers la sélection à différents festivals n'y feront rien ! L'action corrosive de la menace, des injures, de l'obscurantisme et de la peur ont tranché.
Face aux forces opposées à la liberté, à l’égalité et à la créativité qui s’efforcent de barrer la route à un film salué par tous les observateurs informés comme une œuvre de référence pour la relance du cinéma au Sénégal et en Afrique, le silence de l’Etat inquiète.
Au-delà du cas particulier de Karmen qui a déclenché censure, campagnes de presse, intimidations et menaces de mort contre le réalisateur et son épouse, c’est le RESPECT DES LIBERTES DEMOCRATIQUES DANS NOTRE PAYS qui est mis en cause au moment où se manifestent dans le monde de tragiques incitations à la violence, nées du fanatisme et de l’intolérance.
C'est dans ce contexte que le Comité Libérer Karmen a été créé et que ses membres vous invitent à faire face à l’horreur qu’inspirent l’injustice et l’obscurantisme en participant à une campagne de signature pour : Exiger la libération de Karmen et réclamer la réparation des préjudices moraux et financiers subis par l’auteur, ses collaborateurs et partenaires.
Pour voir la vidéo sur l'analyse du film "Karmen" : http://Karmen-vu-par
MOVIE REVIEW | 'KARMEN GEI'
Driving Men, and Women, Crazy
By ELVIS MITCHELL / http://www.nytimes.com
My movie that begins with a dance number that takes place in a prison yard is out to bedevil its audience by any means necessary. Beguiling and peppery, the berserkly picaresque "Karmen Gei" — which starts a run today at the Film Forum in Manhattan — is enormously likable, partly because it is aware of its own grasp of the absurd.
Unfortunately, it is also sadly inconsistent ; it definitely flags whenever its star is not before the camera. Karmen (Djeinaba Diop Gai) whips the folds of her long, dark skirts to expose her long, dark legs.
She's like a statue carved of chocolate with an extremely high cocoa content, and her muscular calves look like a confection to Angélique (Stéphanie Biddle), the prison warden. Karmen soon beds the warden, who keeps a candlestick-packed boudoir office that wouldn't be out of place in an R. Kelly video, and escapes into the night, leaving another in her trail of heartbreaks.
And that's just in the first 10 minutes of this enticingly loony restaging of the Bizet opera. Set in Senegal and directed by Joseph Gai Ramaka, this new version lacks cohesion, but generates so many B.T.U.'s — Karmen's gorgeous skin is perpetually beaded with photogenic sweat — that you'll find yourself distracted from thinking about the doom-oriented denouement, at least temporarily. (The stop and start mechanism is something the other film versions of "Carmen" have never quite solved either, with the possible exception of Godard's "Prenom: Carmen," which simply uses the story as a taking off point.)
The opening piece is the only conventional production number in the whole film, and it's used to warn us that we're about to see a picture scaled to compete with the phalanx of movie adaptations of Bizet's story. Rather than going from one dance number to the next, Mr. Ramaka keeps music bubbling through the text; he has made that rare film version of an opera where the music becomes an organic part of the way the characters lead their lives, instead of having them break meaninglessly into song. (The wonderful soundtrack — with a score by the avant-jazz saxophonist David Murray and contributions from numerous African performers — has a come-hither fire, too.) Music becomes a form of expression for the cast members, especially the women; Karmen sings and chants her desires, and the world-beat pulse is a kind of trigger to her unconscious, which is not too deep below the surface.
Karmen, as they say in first-semester psychology courses, lacks any self-governors. Her powers are overwhelmingly potent on the love-starved sap army officer Lamine (Magaye Niang), who's so taken with her that he loses his commission, the love of the police chief's daughter and, it seems, several nights' sleep; by the end of the film, he's worn down by his obsession. His eyes are yellow and a scruffy gray stubble lines his jawbone.
Despite the on-the-run splendor of Bertrand Chatry's cinematography and Nikos Meletopoulos's production design, the picture often ruts through deep potholes of bad, obvious dialogue. And Mr. Niang isn't quite up to the goddessy charisma of Ms. Gai, though it's hard to say if this lack comes from the actor or the chumpish constraints of his role; even Harry Belafonte couldn't do much more than smooth his shirt over his impossibly flat dogface's stomach in 1954's "Carmen Jones." And she's so seductive, though hardly a willowy vixen; she's more like the Rock, and does just as much damage.
Finally, it turns out that Karmen has a heart and pines for one of her victims. She also knows she has earned whatever fate befalls her because of her actions, but she doesn't apologize or slow down. Reaching New York a couple of years after its due date — the climax has a swarm of partygoers awaiting the first tick of the year 2000 — "Karmen Gei" is still welcome.
A durable figure who's already seen screen incarnations in flamenco, hip-hop and even '60s Euro sexploitation form, Carmen once again leaves the operatic arena for a new context in "Karmen, " Joseph Gai Ramaka's semimusical Senegalese take on the classic tale. Though somewhat uneven in storytelling terms, this multinational co-production is so vividly alive with visual, sonic and performance energy that it overwhelms formal quibbles. A rare African feature tooled for -- and meriting -- broad commercial export, pic is a saucy, colorful delight sure to score arthouse coin and ancillary cult life among diverse auds worldwide.
Original title and initial sequences suggest this will be a very "Gei" Carmen indeed, as heroine is first glimpsed performing a virtual lap dance for a none-too-resistant female authority figure. The setting appears to be a bullfighting ring -- but in fact it's the yard enclosure for an island-bound women's prison compound. There the Amazonian Karmen Gei (Jeinaba Diop Gai) entertains fellow inmates with a very public gyrational display that lands splay-legged atop the seat already occupied by aroused warden Angelique (Stephanie Biddle). Later, Karmen is duly delivered to the guv's private quarters, where their explicit lovemaking briefly hint pic might follow the lead of Radley Metzger's 1967 "Carmen, Baby" into softcore-kitsch terrain.
That proves a red herring, and indeed updated story's lesbian aspect -- though handled with notable, dignified sympathy later on -- emerges as a less than central current. Overall, debut feature from French-trained Senegalese director-scenarist Ramaka sticks to the narrative outline first penned by French author Merimee (then popularized by Bizet's opera), adding flavorful, mostly organic currents of bisexuality, political commentary and local culture to the sturdy basic tale.
Leaving her keeper sated and asleep, Karmen seizes her opportunity to escape. She's next seen working her spectacular dancing mojo before military dictatorship high-rankers, whom she manages to thoroughly insult amid howling civilian onlookers.
Unamused authorities have her hustled off in the custody of humorless Col. Lamine Diop (Magaye Adama Niang). That's a mistake, since even he can't resist this bombshell's siren call, and she easily escapes again.
Humiliated, Lamine finds himself behind bars, his career derailed. Karmen has her own sense of fair play, however. She quickly drafts some underworld associates to help bust the bewildered jarhead out, rewarding him further with a night's carnal abandon. Postcoital bliss sours, though, when resolutely independent protag shows immediate signs of being no one-man woman.
Inevitably Lamine's his possessiveness must claim Karmen's life. This character has often been a pill for auds as well as title figure, and Niang doesn't help matters with an overly sullen, closed-in perf amid a cast of extroverts. Script might have placed more emphasis on Biddle's stoic yet smoldering warden -- a missed opportunity underlined when Karmen later pegs Angelique as the one suitor she might have truly loved. Other subplots are erratically developed.
In general, "Karmen" works better on the level of atmosphere and buoyant, party-hearty set pieces than it does as a cogent action melodrama. Pic's initial energy burst wanes, though not fatally, once story hits the downhill stretch.
Nonetheless, it's still great fun. Neither p'opera nor conventional tuner, package finds many ways to integrate music that ranges from dynamic percussion busking to hymnals, proto-rap "toastings," piano balladry, soundtracked Afropop and jazz. There are no real "production numbers," sole non-naturalistic device being the neat use of ensemble-mimed choral recitative, which offers populist p.o.v. commentary on the action during numerous sequences.
Production design, costumes, and location shooting in Dakar make vivid contribs to feature's lush, hot-colored palette. Effect is perhaps most readily comparable to "Black Orpheus," the prototype for resetting Western romantic mythology amidst Third World cultural carnivalia. Occasional minor missteps aside, "Karmen" manages to transcend tourist exoticism, thanks in part to star Gai's formidable presence -- hers is the rare Carmen to really possess, rather than "act," a self-possessed sexual magnetism that's more femme vivre than fatale.
Tech aspects are first-rate down the line.
Mother Africa's New Breed
Karmen Gei; "New York African Film Festival"
by Jessica Winter
April 3 - 9, 2002
Written and directed by Joseph Gaï Ramaka
New York African Film Festival
April 5 through 11
There are 52 known film versions of Georges Bizet's opera Carmen, ranging from DeMille's 1915 patchwork debacle to Preminger's workmanlike all-black musical Carmen Jones in 1954 to Godard's dejection ode (and Karina exorcism?) Prénom: Carmen in 1984. Prosper Mérimée's slippery man-eater performs her dance of the seven veils at the intersection of l'amour and la mort, forever poised for escape, and any latter-day incarnation must also elude legions of cinematic predecessors (not to mention two decades of Olympic figure skaters). Senegalese director Joseph Gaï Ramaka's Karmen Geï heralds two new inroads in Carmen studies: The fickle temptress swings both ways, and this rendition is touted as the first movie musical produced in sub-Saharan Africa—no production numbers per se, but plenty of song and dance and declaiming on the shores of Dakar.
The film assumes the audience's familiarity with the story line and then pays only casual attention to it. Karmen (Djeïnaba Diop Gaï) makes her entrance via Larry Clarkian mise-en-scène: Squatting at center stage in what appears to be a prison-yard theater-in-the-round, glistening thighs poised at an impressively obtuse angle, she enacts a modified lap dance for the intrigued warden, Angelique (Stéphanie Biddle). Cut to the jailhouse interior, a boisterous sorority-cum-harem crammed full of sassy matrons, where Karmen enjoys after-hours privileges in the headmistress's well-appointed, candlelit bedchamber. A quick sex scene affords Ramaka's camera the opportunity to all but lick the heroine's backside, but as soon as Angelique drops into depthless postcoital slumber, Karmen vanishes through the beaded curtain. As politically minded as she is sexually enterprising, she immediately sets about derailing a wedding ceremony attended by military big shots. A resultant dance-off and catfight lands hapless Lamine (Magaye Niang) in stir; once Karmen busts him out, the smitten colonel states the obvious: "Now you've definitively thrown me into the shit."
Hampered somewhat by Ramaka's erratic pacing, the film develops as a series of shapeless, albeit energetic, set pieces, with nods to Ousmane Sembène's pioneering Black Girl once Karmen hears death knocking at her door. (Nikos Meletopoulos's production design, a sumptuous color-field, is counterpoint to Bertrand Chatry's mottled, dusky cinematography—clouds seem to loom even in the bluest and brightest of Dakar's skies.) An adoring Greek chorus and team of sabar drummers await Karmen wherever she roams, be it church or tavern hall, and understandably so—lead actress Gaï, she of the impossibly long limbs and sweetly conspiratorial smile, is a towering siren, in command of the movie even when Ramaka contrives for her to straddle a bubble bath as if it were a birthing pool. Her Karmen is surprisingly tender and sympathetic, which is to say, a new face in an old crowd—less attention-deficient opportunist than incongruously independent woman, finally undone by her own aphrodisiac magnetism.
Director Sechaba Morojele's Ubuntu's Wounds (US/ South Africa) won Best Short at the 10th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival which ended in Los Angeles on 18 February. Over 140 films were screened.
Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony (US/ South Africa), produced by Desiree Markgraaff of Bomb and supported by SABC2 won a Special Mention. It was directed by American Lee Hirsch
2002 PAN AFRICAN FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL AWARDS
Karmen Gei (Senegal/France/Canada)
Director: Joseph. Gaye Ramaka
Karmen au programme du dernier rendez-vous de la saison du ciné-club Afrique RFI au Musée Dapper : vendredi 7 juillet à 20h30.
Pourquoi adapter Carmen aujourd'hui, en Afrique, et choisir ce sujet pour votre premier long métrage?
De la nouvelle de Mérimée au Carmen Jones de Otto Preminger, j'ai bien vu une dizaine d'adaptations de Carmen. Et j'ai toujours la même fascination, le même étonnement face à cette forte et complexe personnalité que j'ai souvent rencontrée chez les femmes (tante, amante, amie ou tout simplement une passante) de mon pays.
Pourquoi avez-vous choisi de remplacer complètement la musique de Bizet par des musiques traditionnelles africaines et du jazz?
Quand je fermais les yeux et que ces femmes envahissaient mon esprit et mes sens, ce n'est point Bizet que j'entendais, mais le rythme de Doudou, les Polyphonies de Tonton Julien, la voix tragique de Yandé Codou ou la complainte de David au sax.
Pourquoi avez-vous choisi Jeïnaba Diop Gaï pour le rôle de Carmen?
Pour son amour du jeu, sa sincérité, son impertinence et sa beauté.
Quelle est votre vision de la femme?
Je représente la femme comme un personnage décisionnaire fort.
Elle a le pouvoir de prend en main son destin. Elle prend même la liberté d’assumer l'amour sans limite, homosexuel comme hétérosexuel. J'ai tenté de fixer un caractère et une capacité d'aimer rencontrés chez les femmes au Sénégal et ailleurs.