Produced, directed by Jean-Marie Teno. Camera (color), Teno, Moussa Diakite; editor, Christiane Badgley; music, Ben’s Belinga. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 12, 2000. Original French title: Vacances au pays. (French and Bamileke dialogue.) Running time: 78 MIN.
Dyspeptic yet admirably passionate in his concerns over the future of his native land, Cameroonian filmmaker Jean-Marie Teno is back with another diatribe against what he calls the “tropical modernity” encroaching on the core values of his country and people. Though he’s been down this road before — in 1992 doc “Africa, I Will Fleece You,” 1996 drama “Clandestine” and similar projects — distinctive mix of ironic criticism and poetic affection renders “A Trip to the Country” a distinctive sociopolitical travelogue for inquisitive fests and edutube auds.
Returning from his base in France to visit the capital city of Yaounde, where he went to school nearly four decades ago (pic was shot on film and video in 1998 and 1999), Teno narrates a trip west by car to his hometown of Mbieng. The journey incorporates images of crumbling infrastructure and corrupt officials with heartfelt musings on the slow pace of change and the loss of common decency Teno finds endemic to the long march from slavery to colonialism to statehood. Muscular jazz score is by Ben’s Belinga, something of a house band for Teno’s films.