A father arrives in Guinea-Bissau to give his daughter away at her wedding, but must also make peace with memories of his violent past there, in first-time feature director João Viana’s meditation on good and evil.
The Battle of Tabatô
Playing as part of The Battle of Tabato preceded by The Disquiet
An allegorical meditation on the torments of present-day Guinea-Bissau, The Battle of Tabatô begins with preparations for a wedding ceremony and ends with a battle between the natural and spiritual worlds; the forces of good and evil.
Fatu (Fatu Djebaté) and Idrissa (Mamadu Baio), singer of the Supercamarimba band, are to be married in Tabatô, Idrissa's native village, which is famous for its griots and its extraordinary music tradition. Fatu's father, Baio (Mutar Djebaté), a former warrior who left the country after its war of independence, has arrived to give his daughter away and make peace with his past. His return jolts lugubrious memories and resurrects sinister ghosts of violence. Idrissa, personifying hopeful righteousness, has to ward off these ghosts for good.
In this first feature from director João Viana, sound is as thoroughly charged with significance as is image. Viana uses instruments and objects to convey his characters' psychological states: wooden balafons, metal negalins, pumpkin koras, and goatskin dundunbás accompany Idrissa and his drive to do right; cellphone and radio accompany Fatu and highlight her ability to mediate between characters as well as the traditional and contemporary worlds; RPG and machine-gun rounds are associated with Baio, the violence he has perpetrated, and his antiquated mentality. We follow the parallel journeys of Fatu and Baio from Bolama to Tabatô, and Idrissa's from Tabatô to Bafatà to give a radio interview. An eerie tension mounts in tandem with Idrissa's fearless attempt to save his beloved's father from the abyss of war.
The Battle of Tabatò is preceded by Ali
Cherri's The Disquiet. Presented as an investigation
of Lebanon's history of earthquakes,
it is a captivating poetic meditation on contemporary
representations of catastrophe,
whether the collapse of a bridge, or an empire.