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Reviewed by Andy Campbell, March 15, 2013, Screens


Documentary Feature Competition
D: E. Chai Vasarhelyi

The words and poetry of Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Mbacké provide the only narration (aside from the stray title card) in Touba, a collage of a film lensing the pilgrimage of the Mouride Brotherhood to the titular Senegalese city. Filmed mostly in 16mm, Vasarhelyi's footage is nothing less than stunning. The group work of the Mouride – walking, making ritual food, and singing Bamba's praise songs – communicates the structure of a pilgrimage perfectly: travel and prayer, with those few transcendent gilmmers that keep a pilgrim searching. While the sociopolitical context of Senegal and the internal gender dynamics of the Mouride are overtly ignored, the anticolonialist and pacifist history of their founder resonates throughout the film. Touba is a documentary that doesn't pretend to know, or impart, all ... and that's rare and refreshing. For the sound design alone, this isn't to be missed.

Saturday, March 16, 1:30pm, Stateside

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