Cinema and the Anticolonial Liberation Struggles: Mortu Nega

Mortu Nega (1988) dir. Flora Gomes
Mortu Nega (1988) dir. Flora Gomes

Cinema and the Anticolonial Liberation Struggles is a series of screenings and talks explore the political projects of anticolonial struggles and how cinema shapes political events. The series focuses on African liberation movements, solidarities across borders in America and Asia, and how the future of liberation movements were imagined during the Cold War.

This series is co-curated with Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc.

Mortu Nega (1988) dir. by Flora Gomes

Mortu Nega (Death Denied or Those Whom Death Refused) is a 1988 historic film by Flora Gomes, a director from Guinea-Bissau. Mortu Nega was Gomes' first feature-length film. This is the first docufiction, more precisely the first ethnofiction, from his country that shows, in an expressive and touching way, the experiences of the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence. This film blends contemporary history with mythology, in this case African mythology. Mortu Nega was the first film produced in independent Guinea-Bissau. Its world premiere was at the Venice Film Festival on 29th August 1988.

Mortu Nega is shown in Creole with English subtitles.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Raquel Ribeiro, University of Edinburgh, and Mark Sabine, University of Nottingham.


Flora Gomes is a Bissau-Guinean film director. He was born in Cadique, Guinea-Bissau on 31 December 1949 and after high school in Cuba, he decided to study film at the Instituto Cubano del Arte y la Industria Cinematográficos in Havana. Shot fourteen years after independence, Gomes's Mortu Nega (Death Denied) (1988) was the first fiction film and the second feature film ever made in Guinea-Bissau. At FESPACO 1989, the film won the prestigious Oumarou Ganda Prize. In 1992, Gomes directed Udju Azul di Yonta, which was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.


Raquel Ribeiro is a journalist, writer and a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. She holds a BA in Journalism from Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal), followed by a PhD in Hispanic Studies at the University of Liverpool. She developed the postdoctoral project: “War Wounds: Cultural representations of the Cuban presence in the Angolan civil war”, at the University of Nottingham (2010-2012). In 2013, she was awarded a Gabriel García Márquez Fellowship in Cultural Journalism, in Colombia. She taught Brazilian Literature at the University of Oxford before joining the department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies at Edinburgh in 2014, where she teaches Lusophone literatures and cultures. Raquel has been a permanent arts freelance correspondent and literary critic for the Portuguese newspaper Público since 2001. As a creative writer, she published two novels and several short-stories. She is a member of the Cuba Research Forum at the University of Nottingham.

Mark Sabine is an Associate Professor in Lusophone Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Nottingham. He teaches and has published widely on Portuguese and Lusophone African cinema, literature and cultural history, focusing in particular the representation and remembrance of dictatorship and the anti-colonial struggle, and on issues of gender and sexuality. He recently published a book on the Nobel Prize-winning novelist José Saramago, and his forthcoming book focuses on LGBT identities and cultures in Portugal since 1974, through readings of literature, cinema, and music, and through analyses of media, migration, urban geography, and tourism. He is a contributor to international research projects and teaching collaborations connecting specialists as far afield as Latin America, the US, Africa and South-East Asia, and in late 2018 will be Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Mato Grosso, Brazil.

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