L’Ombre de Liberty

By Imunga Ivanga

Lire hors-ligne :

published on 15/08/2007 A mysterious outspoken critic pirates the waves of the national radio: Liberty. His words are incantatory, a poetic harangue encouraging rebellion, a window of hope against the « tyrants who die in their beds. » He properly thwarts the police’s traps who ridicule themselves and decide to adopt tougher methods. But how to capture a phenomenon that escapes time, an intangible voice that nonetheless exists in everybody, this rebellious energy that wakes up when the people become one. Liberty is the one who makes dreams possible again. He is the uncatchable avenger of the oppressed, Robin Hood and L’Archer Bassari at the same time: « those who sleep on the ground are not afraid of falling ». But he is also the poetry of politics, a rebellious meditation, the secret face of discourse, the mobilization of the heart and the spirit. He is the opposite of the three monkeys: he sees everything, hears everything, says everything. He is, in sum, freedom of speech. Such liberty disrupts the obscure power ridden with secret societies. The film stages his hunt without telling us who he is, building a story in a spiral, a jigsaw puzzle that we will have to solve, rhythmed by the freeze frames fixed by the photographer, the sociology of a country dreaming of a change of direction. From the haven of his red van, the relentless Liberty is a myth that the inhabitants of the matiti (popular neighborhood) will defend tooth and nail against the police forces before being beaten and arrested. Yet, Liberty does not let himself get caught by anybody. His voice can modulate from male to female, thus embracing the whole universe. Films from Central Africa carry the tragedy of their environment. Leaving aside the sociologic narrative of Dôlé’s (The Money) children that made him one of the rare important filmmakers in this sub-region, Imunga Ivanga takes up the challenge of an energetic and abounding poetico-political thriller that will captivate those who think the government in power has its dark sides, those who have trouble knowing reality from fantasy. There is a bit of Stars Wars in L’Ombre de Liberty’s incantatory screenplay: the shadow is out there ruining the future. But this shadow is not only in the government’s shady plots, those secret societies that the film does not hesitate to portray: it is also in every one of us, in fear and cowardice, in the excesses of alcohol, in despair and demotivation. « We did not do a lot to deserve Liberty ». And each time we fight him, like this police officer who tries to capture him but whose child is dying from cancer, it is a small part of ourselves that we kill, which the film suggests through a parallel editing in the same vein of Eisenstein or Le Sel de la Terre. Hope? It can only lie in the quiet mobilization that has time on its side. « With him, there is not enough time »: Liberty is not in revolutionary urgency but he encourages a democracy where everybody stands up to be a subject, where everybody claims a place in the world. Beyond fear, it is the only possible survival. Liberty’s need is a need for poetry and dreams – and this is what cinema perpetuates. We must put the jigsaw together as in this film that lavishly mixes social, political, and literary introspection. Liberty is at the end of the labyrinth, rest assured! We must look in ourselves to give him voice. We will have to face the police (the ineffable Philippe Maury) and his voodoo dog, and even the Special Forces as in 68. We might be tortured like the journalist because it is still the tyrants’ reign, but patience, patience: if we give Liberty a voice deep inside us, the night will end. Point taken. Olivier Barlet

Translated by Sutarni Riesenmey///Article N° : 6892

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