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Established by Martin Scorsese in 2007, The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project has maintained a fierce commitment to preserving and presenting masterpieces from around the globe, with a growing roster of dozens of restorations that have introduced moviegoers to often overlooked areas of cinema history. This collector’s set gathers six important works, from Angola (Sambizanga), Argentina (Prisioneros de la tierra), Iran (Chess of the Wind), Cameroon (Muna moto), Hungary (Two Girls on the Street), and India (Kalpana). Each title is an essential contribution to the art form and a window onto a filmmaking tradition that international audiences previously had limited opportunities to experience.
A bombshell by the first woman to direct a film in Africa, Sarah Maldoror’s chronicle of the awakening of Angola’s independence movement is a stirring hymn to those who risk everything in the fight for freedom. Based on a true story, Sambizanga follows a young woman (Elisa Andrade) as she makes her way from the outskirts of Luanda toward the city’s center looking for her husband (Domingos Oliveira) after his arrest by the Portuguese authorities—an incident that ultimately helps to ignite an uprising. Scored by the language of revolution and the spiritual songs of the colonized Angolan people, and featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors—many of whom were themselves involved in anticolonial resistance—this landmark work of political cinema honors the essential roles of women, as well as the hardships they endure, in the global struggle for liberation.
1972 • 97 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Portuguese, Kimbundu, and Lingala with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA
CHESS OF THE WIND
1976 • 99 minutes • Color • Monaural • In Farsi with English subtitles • 1.85:1 aspect ratio
Director Dikongué-Pipa forged a new African cinematic language with Muna moto, a delicate love story with profound emotional resonance. In a close-knit village in Cameroon, the rigid customs governing courtship and marriage mean that a deeply in love betrothed couple (David Endéné and Arlette Din Belle) can be torn apart by the lack of a dowry and by another man’s claiming of the young woman as his own wife—a rupture that sets the stage for a clash between a patriarchal society and a modern generation’s determination to chart its own course. Luminous black-and-white cinematography and stylistic flourishes yield images of haunting power in this potent depiction, told via flashback, of the challenges of postcolonialism and the devastating consequences of a community’s refusal to deviate from tradition.
1975 • 89 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In French with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
TWO GIRLS ON THE STREET
The maverick Hollywood stylist André de Toth sharpened his craft in his native Hungary, where he directed five films, including this chic, dynamically paced melodrama studded with deco decor and jazzy musical interludes. Mária Tasnádi Fekete and Bella Bordy sparkle as upwardly mobile working women—one a musician in an all-girl band, the other a bricklayer—who join forces as they both try to make it in Budapest, supporting each other through changing economic fortunes, the advances of lecherous men, and the highs and heartbreaks of love. Kinetic camera work, brisk editing, and avant-garde imagery abound in Two Girls on the Street, an often strikingly modern ode to the power of working-class female solidarity.
1939 • 79 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Hungarian with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio
1948 • 152 minutes • Black & White • Monaural • In Hindi with English subtitles • 1.37:1 aspect ratio