Non-professional actors re-enact the brutal massacre of Mueda with raw authenticity in this powerful and meta African classic that returns to MIFF after 37 years.
In 1960, in the Mozambique town of Mueda, the Portuguese Empire gunned down 600 protesters in one of the most violent incidents of the nation’s colonial rule. Decades later, director Ruy Guerra returned home from Brazil, where he was a prominent figure in the Cinema Novo movement, and crafted this palpable yet satirical re-enactment of that brutal chapter where, in an inspired twist, locals play all the roles: innocent victims, murderous oppressors and aghast spectators. Intercut with survivor interviews, Guerra’s remarkable film is somehow able to turn this tragic episode of Mozambique history into a thrilling and at times even exuberant spectacle.
Initially screening at MIFF in 1981, this essential work of African cinema was lost until 2009 when a copy was discovered in the archives of Mozambique’s capital of Maputo. Generally accepted as the nation’s first fictional feature film, Mueda, Memory and Massacre is a masterful work of anti-colonial agitprop that is ready to be discovered again by Melbourne audiences.