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still from Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman
courtesy Icarus Films

Chez Jolie Coiffure followed by Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman

African Legacy: Francophone Films 1955 to 2019

  • Sunday, March 8, 2020
  • 4:00 p.m.
  • East Building Auditorium
  • In-person

Cameroon-born Rosine Mbakam’s feature documentary Chez Jolie Coiffure is a graceful chamber piece shot in a tiny hair salon in Brussels. Managed by the charismatic but undocumented Sabine, Jolie Coiffure is a hub for West African women—many, like Sabine, are from Cameroon. She recruits for a tontine (an investment scheme that pays members an annuity), organizes lodging for women lacking papers, and, in quieter moments, recounts her own harrowing journey to Belgium. Though she has created a home, Sabine remains an outsider and locals often stop to gape. (Rosine Mbakam, 2019, subtitles, 70 minutes)

In Two Faces of a Bamiléké Woman, Mbakam returns to her mother’s village in Cameroon. She wants to introduce her young son to the family, but even more, she wants deeper knowledge of her past and speaks at length with her mother and the other village women. Mama Bamiléké talks about traditional life, her own arranged marriage, and the robust and bolstering alliance of local women. (Rosine Mbakam, 2017, subtitles, 76 minutes)