The Lists this week: Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, King of the Belgians and Spoek Mathambo
King of the Belgians. It’s a pity that the European Film Festival ended last weekend because it means that getting to watch this film on a local big screen now might prove difficult. If you ever come across this gem, welcome to non-Western filmmaking.
This mockumentary or satirical drama follows the king of a broken Belgium and three of his royal aides as they try to make their way home from Turkey through the Balkans with no money, no passports and a colourful cameraman. Not only is it delightfully filmed, I enjoyed the foray into Eastern Europe driven by perfect pacing, beautiful framing and a respect for the relationship between script and actors.
PS: Dear Cinema Nouveau, please consider screening more films from other parts of the world such as Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. I’ve never seen the movies so consistently packed. (MB)
Spoek Mathambo: Mzansi Beat Code. Much like those HIVIP mixtapes that used to drive the homies nuts, it still sounds like, more than anything else, Spoek Mathambo is interested in mapping the back alleys of South African electronic music. It seems significant that the Bacardi house tune The Mountain, featuring the likes of Mujava, Spoko, Pegasus Warning and Machepis, comes directly after its little cousin, so to speak, in the gqom track Landed. Also, “landed” is the English approximation of something going “gqi”. (KS)
THE READING LIST
Dan Magaziner: The Art of Life in South Africa. This academic text written by a Yale history professor landed on my desk on Tuesday. It’s a book about a relatively unknown mission near Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal called Ndeleni, which was reformed by the apartheid government into an art teacher training school for black people in its Bantu Education programme. According to the book, hundreds of artists graduated there through the school’s one-year programme and went on to teach and practice art. It’s strange that when one speaks of institutions such as Rorke’s Drift Art School or the Polly Street Art Centre, Ndeleni doesn’t sound as familiar. I’m sceptical but interested. (MB)
Abubakar Adam Ibrahim: The Whispering Trees. In his Caine Prize shortlisted short story, Ibrahim tells the story of a man who experiences a near-death situation that leaves him blind. Looking at life from the other side of his senses, the protagonist gains a new perspective, as does the reader. This story is the title of Ibrahim’s 2012 short-story collection. (KS)
THE GAMING LIST
Cold and rainy weather is conducive to marathon gaming sessions, by which I mean I’ve been playing a shit-ton of Dark Souls lately, while listening to podcasts, radio plays and audio books. The experience is elevated to the sublime when you’re making your way through the severe balustrades and barren promenades of Anor Londo while a Radio 4 documentary traces Jane Eyre’s route to Wide Sargasso Sea. Or plumbing the poisonous depths of Blight Town as a beleagured John Hurt narrates Dante’s Inferno. Or exploring the tortured landscape of the Painted World while Bahni Turpin reads from Colson Whitehead’s traumatic Underground Railroad. Especially when you get to brag about it in the newspaper afterwards. (TSM)
The Lists are compiled by Friday editor Milisuthando Bongela,
arts writer Kwanele Sosibo and gaming writer @TheSerifM