Sundance Film Review: Concerning Violence

Posted January 19, 2014 in
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Photo courtesy of: Lennart Malmer

Concerning Violence
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Göran Hugo Olsson

In his 2011 Sundance film The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, Göran Hugo Olsson took us deep into the American Black Power movement with footage assembled from Swedish journalistic studies in the ‘60s and ‘70s. With Concerning Violence (subtitled Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense), Olsson tells a similar story of African liberation during the same era. As black Americans struggle for equality in the US, native Africans revolt against colonial European rule. This is not a typical interview/live footage/interview documentary—Lauryn Hill’s powerful narration (pulled from Frantz Fanon’s anticolonial The Wretched of the Earth) forms text over images of African shantytowns, white colonists’ immaculate bocce greens, African workers abandoned on a roadside for striking, white missionaries admitting to forcing their ideals on the natives and African guerillas gathering in the bush to form a society outside the European-ruled colonies. Though the film offers no real solutions to the problem of colonial oppression, its thesis is clear: “Only violence pays.” This isn’t the stuff you hear in World History class. This is the hard, disturbing, depressing, embarrassing dirt of our past. It’s the best thing I’ve seen at Sundance thus far—Concerning Violence should be mandatory viewing in all US and European schools. In a plea for a new mode of living after decolonization, Olsson/Fanon/Hill begs, “Let us try not to imitate Europe.” After viewing this compelling Malcolm X-meets-Adbusters film, that’s the last thing I want to do. –Cody Kirkland

Screening Times: 
Sunday, Jan. 19 — 9:45 p.m. • Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City
Wednesday, Jan. 22 — 8:30 a.m. • Prospector Square Theatre, Park City
Thursday, Jan. 23 — 6:00 p.m. • Sundance Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort
Friday, Jan. 24 — 12:00 p.m. • Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City

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