Sambizanga

Sambizanga is the story of Domingos and Maria, a young couple in 1960s Portuguese colonial Angola.

Domingos is a good man, a dedicated father and husband, and is secretly an activist for Angolan independence. One day the police kick in his door and drag him out his house, beat hell out him and fling him in the back of a van. We follow three stories – the activists watching the prison in Sambizanga who see him arrive, and need to figure out who he is and where he’s come from to alert his loved ones and contacts; Maria as she goes from government office to police station to jail trying to find him; and Domingos, for whom time is running out, as he is beaten and tortured under interrogation.

What I liked about it was, that although this is a story about this young couple caught up in the horror of their times, the thread following the activists shows it’s not just the story of one misfortune or one man’s struggle. Many people co-ordinate to try to find out who this arrested man is, with nothing more than a brief glance when he is dragged from the car to the jail door. Lots of people are looking out for how they can identify him, so he is not alone and forgotten in there.

Made in the 1970s, this is the 4K restoration release. I can only imagine how powerful this would have been at the time it was made, while the Angolan war for independence was still going. Really pleased I got the chance to see it.