CANNES FESTIVAL, civil war and confusion in ANOTHER DAY OF LIFE

The word “the confusão” gets repeated often by the various protagonists in “Another Day of Life.” It describes the terrible chaos, the absolute disorientation that Angola experienced in the early seventies because of an armed conflict. The country’s slide towards civil war, right after it was handed its independence after five centuries of Portuguese domination, would last twenty-seven years and cause the deaths of half a million people.

Grand reporter Ryszard Kapuscinski, of the Polish Press Agency, arrived in the country on assignment at that moment. As the Portuguese fled, taking as much as they could with them, various Angolan factions emerged and began to fight over the country’s oil and its territory. The MPLA, which was supported by 90% of the country and the FNLA and UNITA, bona fide assassins and hell-raisers, each fought violently for supremacy.

As the conflict dragged on, the U.S. and the USSR propped up the different players of the conflict, waging a war by proxy.

At first stuck in the capital Luanda, Grand Reporter Richard Kapuscinski manages to convince a colleague, Artur Queiroz, to drive down to the south of the country with him, to get close to the theater. Their objective was to find and interview Farrusco, leader of the MPLA movement.

Told in English, with occasional Portuguese, “Another day of life” is edifying because of its documentary-like quality about the Angolan conflict, and engrossing at the same time.

Indeed, there are many reasons to go and see this film, directed by Raúl de la Fuente and Damian Nenow, which premiered in Cannes in the out of competition slot. The extraordinary animation (if you liked “Waltz with Bashir,” this movie is for you), the soundtrack, the familiar but ghastly conflict that it relates that has so many familiar facets (the old Russia versus the West battle, ideological wars, the pillaging of natural resources), the apparently unbridled imagination of its directors. The film also raises an important ethical issue. When you’re a journalist and you’re going straight into the line of fire and someone hand you a gun, because they may not be able to protect you anymore, do you accept it? And if so, do you use it?

The animation that filmmakers have used in this film multiply the possibilities for storytelling to infinity. What adds to “A life” is that de la Fuente and Nenow inserted live action sequences, actual black and white footage from the period, featuring some of the real-life protagonists of the movie, photos, and live-action reenactments, into their film.

This feature animated film is based on Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book, “Another Day of Life.” This journalist has visited just about every theater in modern history and has written some twenty books about his experiences covering armed conflicts around the world. “Another Day of Life” was a great pleasure to discover here in Cannes!