Soleil O/Oh Sun — Mubi.com
Med Hondo, the Mauritanian-born director and African cinematic maverick’s debut was released in 1967, seven years after the country achieved independence from France. It was partly based on Hondo’s own experiences in France after he left his homeland in 1959 and found himself able to work menial jobs thanks to the blatant racism of the French towards immigrants from their former colonies.
The film weaves a series of angry, darkly funny incidents in the life of its Mauritanian immigrant protagonist to offer a searing critique of racism and colonial hubris. There’s a freewheeling, experimental mashing up of styles and genres that reflects Hondo’s varied influences and interests, but also gives the film an urgent, righteous energy that fits the tumultuous political times of the world in the late 1960s.
It also offers plenty of commentary on the legacy of colonialism and the insidious racism that still abounds. Oh Sun continues to be hailed as a masterpiece of revolutionary, political cinema and an expression of the black consciousness movement. It continues to influence further explorations of the exploitive relationship between Africa and the rest of the world. Most recently, in 2019, it served as the inspiration for Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai’s work We Live in Silence.