Anthology Film Archives


March 22 – April 2

Med Hondo was one of the most artistically innovative, politically engaged, and theoretically astute of the radical auteurs who reinvented narrative cinema in the 1960s and 70s, and a towering figure among the early generations of post-colonial African filmmakers. Born in Morocco and raised in Mauritania, Hondo migrated to France in 1956, where he was based for the rest of his life (he passed away in 2019 at the age of 82). In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Hondo played a crucial role within the French theater, performing in a wide variety of classic and contemporary plays, and co-founding with Robert Liensol his own theater company (Shango) in 1966, which focused on Black playwrights. Later in his life, he worked extensively as an actor, and a voice actor (he famously gave voice to actors such as Danny Glover, Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Muhammad Ali, and Eddie Murphy, when their films were dubbed into French). But it’s his own films that stand as his greatest achievement.

Hondo’s first feature, SOLEIL Ô (1970), immediately established him as an artist working at the forefront of a politically and aesthetically vanguard cinema. It remains his best-known film, and a landmark work, but the features that followed were no less vital, fearless, and inspired, and were in some cases even more ambitious. The totality of his oeuvre has been greatly neglected thus far, but that has begun to change, thanks in part to a number of tributes around the world following his death (including at the Harvard Film Archive and the Viennale in 2023), and to the week-long revival run of his 1979 anti-colonial musical extravaganza WEST INDIES at Film Forum in March. In conjunction with that engagement, Anthology is honored to host this retrospective, which includes the majority of his feature films as well as two shorter works.

“I have always strived for a cinema of rupture, because I consider that Africans, African civilizations, Black people have their own history, their own destiny, their own expression, and that the cinema they make cannot be the classic cinema made by everybody else, with a beginning, a middle, and an end, kisses, feelings, love, etc. I did not want to swim in that pond. I always told my colleagues to make sure not to imitate the Other cinema. They could of course be inspired by it, by many of its qualities, but not mimic it. For me, the dogma, if any, was to never imitate…” –Med Hondo, interview with Aboubakar Sanogo

“Throughout his career, his films and beyond, Med Hondo sought to actualize this vision in his choice of emancipatory themes, a radically and formally innovative approach, an uncompromising and critical bidirectional gaze, and in his contributions to the creation and/or nurturing of important African cinematic institutions such as the Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and the Comité Africain des Cinéastes (CAC). […] At once sober and exuberant, mixing pure and spectacular virtuosity with surprising and sometimes minimalist restraint, Hondo’s is a cinephile’s cinema, not of the navel-gazing and thumb-sucking kind…but rather a cinephilia premised on the inseparability of the aesthetic and the political. Humorous, caustic, thought-provoking, historically conscious, uncompromising yet profoundly empathetic and restlessly innovative in their mise en scène, montage, sound design and narrativization, the indocile films of Med Hondo invite us to take our destinies in our own hands and forge a world in our own image.” –Aboubakar Sanogo, Carleton University

This retrospective has been organized in collaboration with Aboubakar Sanogo, Associate Professor in Film Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Sanogo’s writings have appeared in Framework, Film Quarterly, Sight and Sound, Film Comment, and elsewhere, and he is currently completing two manuscripts on the history of documentary in Africa and on the cinema of Med Hondo, and an anthology on the legendary director.

Sanogo will be here at Anthology in person to introduce the Tuesday, March 26 screening of SOLEIL Ô and the Wednesday, March 27 screening of BLACK LIGHT.

Special thanks to Zahra Hondo; Aboubakar Sanogo (Carleton University); Haden Guest & Mark Johnson (Harvard Film Archive); Brian Belovarac & Emily Woodburne (Janus Films); Bruce Goldstein (Film Forum); and Federico Lancialonga (Ciné-Archives).

For more info about WEST INDIES, which will be screening at Film Forum starting on March 22, visit

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