When "These Are the Weapons," a documentary about Mozambique's 10 years of armed struggle and the rebuilding that followed, was shown in the capital city of Maputo, 10,000 people filled the stadium. And twice that number stood outside.
The strength of that response is commonplace, says Pedro Pimenta, assistant director of Mozambique's Institute of National Cinema, describing the apparent hunger for films in his country. "The people feel very close to the film because it is their lives. But also most of the people can't read, so film has a critical educational value."
"Weapons," the first feature-length film of the film institute, and three short films will be shown tonight and tomorrow evening at 6:30 in Howard University's Blackburn Center, the first stop on a 10-city tour. Pimenta, 26, and Camilo DeSousa, 28, a filmmaker who worked with the propaganda unit of FRELIMO, Mozambique's only legal political party, will participate in discussions on Third World culture and film.
Scenes in "Weapons" of body-littered fields and Portuguese officials toasting their life styles were culled from foreign filmmakers and Portuguese newsreels, as well as film they shot themselves, and they catch the immediacy and vitality of the political process. At a political rally the women are shouting "Viva!" to the future of Mozambique, but when the Portuguese are mentioned all the women point downward. At another gathering, the men all line up and sing and dance to the end of capitalism. And when an old clip of a visiting British politician is shown, a voice-over says, "What they were really dealing with was oppression."
At the conclusion, the film just stops -- intentionally. "There is no word 'The End' because that's how we feel about our struggle. We can't consider ourselves free unless we are all free," says Pimenta.