Set in a backyard in the Malian city of Bamako, this refreshing political parable follows a mock-trial in which the plaintiff is African civil society and the accused are Western financial monoliths like the World Bank and the IMF, whose ‘structural adjustment programmes’ have crippled developing countries. In order to service their debts, these nations are forced to slash spending on social services and privatise their natural resources.
In other hands, this might have been a dour, didactic finger-wag. But Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako (Waiting For Happiness) spices it with scenes of everyday life continuing around the legal proceedings – a wedding, a break-up, clothes being dyed, prayers and chit-chat. Lensed in warm tones, with impassioned contributions from the non-professional witnesses, there’s even space for exec-producer Danny Glover to appear in a spoof spaghetti-Western skit.