Past Event

FILM FESTIVAL Colette and Justin

October 5, 2023
6:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Horace Mann Hall, 551 W. 120 St., New York, NY 10027 Cowin Auditorium, Horace Mann Hall, Teachers College

Alain Kassanda, 2022, 89 min.
In Lingala and French with English subtitles 
Q&A with director Alain Kassanda and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, moderated by Fanny Guex

Of Congolese descent, Alain Kassanda retraces his family history and the history of the Belgian colonization of the Congo, then its independence, and the political upheaval and civil war that followed. In this intimate film, Kassanda succeeds in placing the major political events that marked Congolese history by using historical and family archival images, along with the memories shared by his grandparents, and accompanies the story with a poetic voice-over. This film delves into the history of colonization, decolonization, civil war, and immigration, from the point of view of those who lived through and inherited this history.

“How do you depict the impact of colonization, decolonization, a civil war and a destructed economy in one film? Director Alain Kassanda decided to portray his grandparents, who lived through all of these traumatizing times. The result is a deeply personal, sometimes poetic, sometimes harrowing (hi)story of oppression, revolution, betrayal, disillusionment and love.” —Business Doc Europe

“Connects Congolese history to family history... a thoughtful debut.” —The Film Verdict

Born in Kinshasa, Alain Kassanda left the Democratic Republic of the Congo for France at the age of 11. After studying communication he began staging cycles of movie screenings and several film festivals in various Parisian theaters in 2003, and he was the film programmer for the movie theater Les 39 Marches in Sevran, near Paris, for five years. Alain Kassanda moved to Ibadan, in southwestern Nigeria, in 2015. Trouble Sleep (2020) is the starting point of his film triptych dedicated to Ibadan. His work Colette and Justin (2022) premiered at IDFA and won the Gilda Vieira De Mello Award at FIFDH. His latest work, Coconut Head Generation (2023), was selected at New Directors/New Films at Lincoln Center and MoMA and won the Grand Prize at Cinéma du réel. It will be shown at Columbia Maison Francaise on Monday, October 9 at 6:30 PM. More information here.

Souleymane Bachir Diagne is Professor of Philosophy and French at Columbia University and Director of the Institute of African Studies. His field of research includes the history of logic, history of philosophy, Islamic philosophy, and African philosophy and literature. 

This film is presented as part of the Columbia University Maison Française 2023 Film Festival, Across Generations: Unveiling the Past, Embracing the Present. The festival is curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex and Ilana Custos-Quatreville and produced by the Columbia Maison Française.  

Additional support is provided by the Knapp Family Foundation and Villa Albertine, and by our festival co-sponsors at Columbia University: Alliance Program, Department of History, Institute of African Studies, European Institute, and Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities. The full festival program can be found HERE.

This film screening is also supported by Albertine Cinematheque, a program of FACE Foundation and Villa Albertine, with support from the CNC / Centre National du Cinema, and SACEM / Fonds Culturel Franco-Américain.

Contact Information

Maison Francaise