Across the Margins, Beyond the Pale

Across the Margins, Beyond the Pale: Re-imagining the post-colonial

An anthropological black comedy, a baroque anti-symphony, a surrealist counter-ethnography, a revolutionary musical drama, a porno-misery parody and a cubist road movie. What do all these films have in common? At first sight hardly anything, except for the fact that they all seem to be rooted in a world that is still classified ‘third’, a world marked by broken promises and shattered dreams, haunted by the spectres of colonialism and the realities of imperialism.

These films are distant echoes from a time when a roaring call for a ‘third’ cinema was resounding, one that could expose cruel realities and chase away unwanted ghosts: a cinema of liberation, not owing anything to the workings of the dominant order; a cinema of opposition, found on the outer edges of the overdeveloped world, always South to someone else’s north. These films are all that, and they are not. They do speak of the incoherence of underdevelopment and the discards of colonialism, and yet they refuse to conform to the imperatives of urgency and pedagogy that are bound up with these motives. They do take position against established powers and manifest a desire to overcome the past, but also resist any prescribed directions and prefer to re-imagine unforeseen futures. They struggle hard to search for identity, but they do so through the very dismissal of the identities that are imposed by others.

Outrageous, hilarious, vertiginous, delirious: this is a cinema that has nothing to lose, and everything to gain; a cinema that chooses to forsake the trodden pathways, only to find itself in a state of complete sovereignty. In all their dislocated intensity, unfathomable glory and impossible hope, this is the stuff that foolish dreams are made of.


In the context of the research project “Figures of Dissent (Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema)” KASK / School of Arts / UGent