Africa Addio (Original Italian title; also known as Africa: Blood and Guts, and Farewell Africa) is a 1966 documentary film directed by Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi. The film examines the situation in certain areas of sub-Saharan Africa undergoing the process of decolonization during the 1960s. Part of the mondo movie genre, the film is as celebrated as it is controversial.
Accolades and Criticisms
The film received a David di Donatello award and generally enjoyed favorable reviews from critics. However, it also faced criticisms for purportedly promoting a colonial perspective. While director Gualtiero Jacopetti initially claimed all footage was genuine, he later admitted that some scenes were reenactments performed by extras. A later documentary, The Godfathers of Mondo, clarified that the only staged scenes were in “Mondo Cane 2.”
Reception in the United States
In the United States, John Cohen published a book titled Africa Addio (Ballantine, 1966), which further explored the themes and episodes presented in the film through various sources.
The film covers a range of issues, including but not limited to:
- The voluntary destruction of foreign-origin food supplies in newly independent Kenya.
- The trial of Mau-Mau members for the killing of English settlers in Kenya.
- The massacre of Arabs and Muslims by black rebels led by John Okello during the Zanzibar Revolution.
- Indiscriminate hunting in Kenya by poachers as well as by white hunters.
- Massacres and episodes of cannibalism in Angola and Tanganyika.
- The actions of Belgian paratroopers and U.S. intervention in rescuing western survivors of rebel massacres.
The film has been accused of implicitly endorsing colonialism by portraying Africans as incapable of peaceful self-governance. Roberto Alemanno, a left-leaning film critic, labeled the film as a “collage of false testimonies” that encouraged racial hatred.
Controversies and Legal Issues
A 1964 article in L’Espresso claimed that Jacopetti had delayed and relocated two executions of Simba rebels for filming, which he denied and sued the magazine for. He was subsequently acquitted of the charges of “complicity in homicide committed abroad against foreigners.”
Cultural Impact and Artifacts
In 1968, a float inspired by the film appeared at the Viareggio Carnival, created by papier-mâché masters Francesconi and Balzella. Some artifacts from this float, along with a copy of John Cohen’s book, are displayed in the Dictionary of Film Tourism Museum in Verolengo.
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