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Moustapha Alassane, Pioneer of the Golden Age of Nigerien Cinema

La Bague du Roi Koda (The Ring of King Koda) / Aoure

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Friday 9/15
7:00 pm
$10 General Public
$8 Students & Seniors
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Co-presented with Scribe Video Center

La Bague du Roi Koda (The Ring of King Koda)
Dir. Moustapha Alassane, Niger, 1962, 16mm, 24 min., French, Hausa w/English subtitles
In this Zharma legend, the cruel, despotic King Koda tests the loyalty of one of his subjects, a fisherman named “Finger of God,” by ordering him to safeguard one of his rings for an entire year. Failure to do so will lead to the fisherman’s beheading.

Followed by:
Aoure
Dir. Moustapha Alassane, Niger, 1962, 35mm, 30 min., French, Hausa w/English subtitles
In this hybrid of fiction and documentary, Alassane chronicles the married life of a young Zharma (ethnic Muslim) couple living in the Niger River valley.

This first North American retrospective of Moustapha Alassane (1942–2015), a pioneer of populist cinema in newly independent Niger in the 1960s and 1970s, is presented in association with La Cinémathèque Afrique de l’Institut français. A fabulist who sheathed the sharp sting of his political satire within playful stories of water genies, pugilistic frogs, cowboys, and brave fishermen, Alassane parodied colonialist attitudes toward black Africans, the corrupt despotism of local officials, and the shallow materialism of Niger’s youth in a series of animated, fictional, and ethnographic films that remain beloved and influential today. The lure of cinema, with its magical play of shadow and light, inspired Alassane to give up his career as a mechanic and turn toward making art for the masses. His earliest animated films were simple projections of cardboard cutouts, but his work quickly matured, leading to friendships and collaborations with Zalika Souley, one of Africa’s preeminent actresses, the French documentarian Jean Rouch and the Canadian animator Norman McLaren. Alassane’s films are vital and imaginative records of Nigerien traditions and rituals. Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, with Amélie Garin-Davet, French Embassy in New York. Special thanks to Mathieu Fournet and Véronique Joo’Aisenberg. All images and written descriptions courtesy of MoMA.