June 13th, 2019

Thursday, June 13th, 2019 / 7:00pm
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

1988 / 80 minutes / English / Color
Directed by: John Akomfrah
Print supplied by: the Smoking Dogs Films

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center as we present a year-long series entitled Post-Colonialisms: World Cinema and Human Consequence. We continue with John Akomfrah’s critically-acclaimed Testament [1988].

Ticket Information: $8 general, $6 students & seniors, $5 members

Event Sponsors:

341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202


courtesy of website:

In Testament, the condition of the postcolony is embodied in the figure of activist turned television reporter Abena who returns to contemporary Ghana, for the first time since the 1966 coup that ended President Kwame Nkrumah’s experiment in African socialism.

Adrift in a ‘war zone of memories’ Abena is caught in the tension between public history and private memory. The film is characterised by a depopulated frame and a deliberately cold look that evokes an emotional landscape of postcolonial trauma.

Awards and Nominatons:
• THE GRAND PRIZE at the Rimini Cinema International Film Festival, Rimini, Italy 1988
• THE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE at the African International Festival of Perugia, Perugia, Italy 1989
• HONOURABLE MENTION – San Francisco International Film Festival, San Francisco, USA 1989
• SPECIAL MENTION for the use of archive film and music, FESPACO Burkina Faso, March 1989
• HONOURABLE MENTION Vue’s de Afrique, Montreal, Canada April 1989

Director Bio

“One of the things I’ve tried to do in my work is to reconfigure the traditional relationship between a narrative piece, whether it’s documentary or fiction, and the sound.”

courtesy of Lisson Gallery:

John Akomfrah is a hugely respected artist and filmmaker, whose works are characterised by their investigations into memory, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics and often explores the experiences of migrant diasporas globally. Akomfrah was a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, which started in London in 1982 alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul, who he still collaborates with today. Their first film, Handsworth Songs (1986) explored the events surrounding the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London through a charged combination of archive footage, still photos and newsreel. The film won several international prizes and established a multi-layered visual style that has become a recognisable motif of Akomfrah’s practice. Other works include the three-screen installation The Unfinished Conversation (2012), a moving portrait of the cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s life and work; Peripeteia (2012), an imagined drama visualising the lives of individuals included in two 16th century portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Mnemosyne (2010) which exposes the experience of migrants in the UK, questioning the notion of Britain as a promised land by revealing the realities of economic hardship and casual racism.

In 2015, Akomfrah premiered his three-screen film installation Vertigo Sea (2015), that explores what Ralph Waldo Emerson calls ‘the sublime seas’. Fusing archival material, readings from classical sources and newly shot footage, Akomfrah’s piece focuses on the disorder and cruelty of the whaling industry and juxtaposes it with scenes of many generations of migrants making epic crossings of the ocean for a better life. Akomfrah presented his largest film installation to date, Purple, in 2017 at the Barbican in London, co-commissioned by Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden, TBA21—Academy, The Institute of Contemporary Art/ Boston and Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon. The six-channel video installation addresses climate change, human communities and the wilderness. More recently, Akomfrah debuted Precarity at Prospect 4 New Orleans. Through archival imagery and newly-shot footage, Precarity follows the life of forgotten New Orleans jazz singer Buddy Bolden.


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