Aristotle’s Plot

Director: Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Screenwriters: Jean-Pierre Bekolo

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Jean-Pierre Bekolo is African cinema’s secret-agent man, subverting the continent’s opposition between tradition and modernity with an aesthetic that tosses it all merrily together. His debut feature, Quartier Mozart, mixed sorcery and urban satire, becoming an instant classic. Now Bekolo tackles the beast head-on in what is certain to be the most talked-about African film of the year. Half meditation on the trials of African moviemaking, half action movie send-up, this film shows him to be an increasingly fearless trickster.

In a southern African town, a group of wanna-be gangstas hangs out at the Cinema Africa, subjecting themselves to megadoses of the latest action fests. They’ve even taken the names of their screen gods: Van Damme, Bruce Lee, Nikita, Saddam, and the leader Cinema. In walks an earnest cineaste, trying to enlist the government’s help in cleansing the Cinema Africa of Hollywood, replacing Schwarzenegger with Sembene. The government is indifferent and the gangstas won’t come quietly, so he takes matters into his own hands and becomes a vigilante for an indigenous film culture. In its combination of critical questioning and anarchic glee, Aristotle’s Plot harks back to Godard, but with a sense of humor all its own. Instead of working toward the end of cinema like Godard, Bekolo just wants a new beginning and a decent middle.

— Cameron Bailey, Toronto Film Festival

Screening Details

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