Homosexuality is still such a controversial topic in some African countries that first-time feature writer-director Mohamed Camara and his crew faced angry protests when they filmed "Destiny" in his native Guinea.

Homosexuality is still such a controversial topic in some African countries that first-time feature writer-director Mohamed Camara and his crew faced angry protests when they filmed “Destiny” in his native Guinea. For Western viewers, the theme of coming out and seeking parental acceptance is nothing new, but in this small but heartfelt pic it is given fresh life. Gay film programmers as well as fests with Third World sections should take note.

Camara opens his film with a scene in which his protagonists, 20-year-olds Manga and Sory, are kissing passionately in a parked car. Later, when Manga tries to tell his widowed mother he’s in love with a man, she simply refuses to believe it, claiming it’s biologically impossible. Sory’s father, too, is indignant and horrified at the very idea that his son is gay. The lovers are forced to part, and Manga’s mother even attempts to exorcise her boy’s sexual orientation via witchcraft.

Some time later, on a bus, the lonely and frustrated Manga meets the attractive Oumu, a white girl raised by a black mother. They start dating, and seem to enjoy each other’s company, but when Oumu attempts to push the relationship toward sex, Manga finds himself unable to respond.

Though the importance of “Destiny” as a trailblazer in the African context shouldn’t be underestimated, Western audiences will find it a bit slight, and perhaps wonder at the extremely unlikely relationship that develops between the lissome Oumu (sweetly played by Cecile Bois) and the brooding Manga (Aboubacar Toure). It’s interesting that the only nudity in the film occurs during the unfulfilled love scene between the two.

Pic is modestly produced, with an attractive use of traditional music.

Destiny

French-Guinean

Production

A Les Films du XXeme/La Sept Cinema production, in association with Le Centre National de la Cinematographie. (International sales: Les Films du XXeme, Paris.) Produced by Rene Feret. Directed, written by Mohamed Camara.

Crew

Camera (color), Gilberto Azevedo; editor, Dos Santos; music, Elhadj Sory, Kandia Kouyate; sound, Christine Charpail, Dominique Hennequin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight), May 14, 1997. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Aboubacar Toure, Mamady, Cecile Bois, Koumba Diakite, Kade Seck, Mohamed Camara.
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