Bamako

One of the most striking things about this film is the way that the majesty of the court is contrasted by the realities of everyday life. While the court is in session in the courtyard, women are coming in & out of showers, caring for children and conducting business. One woman repeatedly asks her husband to tie her clothing on, interrupting the court’s proceedings and having all of the witnesses watch as her husband ties up her clothing. It’s just a little bit bizarre. When I think of the courtrooms in the U.S., such demonstrations of daily life are not present. The courtroom is a place of order and power, not to be interrupted by mundane issues of living.

And yet, this contrast does something powerful for the film. The court is trying the World Bank and ordinary citizens of Mali are being heard as they speak about how the World Bank has harmed them. Often the way that the World Bank affects individuals is not talked about, the only discussion pertains to growth in GDP or the payment of debt. In this movie citizens are allowed to speak about their negative experiences while images of their suffering and “realness” are depicted in or near the courtroom. By realness I mean the simple humanity of their existence, their need to dress, eat, work, etc.

I think that this is very necessary to the point of the film, which is to get us to think about the way that the World Bank is negatively affecting the citizens of African nations. Towards the end of the film, a couple of judges rise to speak about their views on the World Bank. And as Mary Ann wrote, it all suddenly seems very unreal. What court has the jurisdiction to try the World Bank, the ICC? Why would such a trial be held in Mali, in a small, ordinary courtyard? By juxtaposing the eloquent speeches of the judges with the ordinary life of Mali, the viewer is able to make the connection between WB policies and individual life.

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