Med Hondo: The Multifaceted Talent
Med Hondo, whose full name is Abid Mohamed Medoun Hondo is an expatriate Mauritanian film director. His films mainly focus on the experiences of Africans abroad.
The son of farmers, Med Hondo (b.May 4,1936) was raised in the Atar region of Mauritania on the edge of the Sahara Desert. At age 18, he left home to attend cooking school in Morocco, after which he went to work as a chef in France. It was in France that he became interested in the performing arts.
Hondo began to work in the arts by acting for french theater companies. Frustrated by the roles they offered him, he soon formed a theater ensemble with the purpose of producing plays that expressed feelings common among Africans in Europe, exile and estrangements. To earn extra income, however, he also took parts in movies and television. Through this work, he became fascinated with film and taught himself how to use a movie camera.
In early 1969, Med Hondo directed his first short film and by the end of the year, completed his first full-length feature, Soleil O. It was well received on the international film festival circuit such as the Cannes Film Festival in France, the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, and the Festival PanAfricain du Cinéma de Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso.
Since 1969, Hondo has released five feature films, including Les Bicots–Negres, vos Voisins(Arabs and Niggers, Your Neighbours 1973), the musical West Indies (1979), Sahel la Faim Pourquoi (1975)and Sarraounia (1986).
Hondo’s movies explore conditions of exile and alienation, often examining the case of African expatriates working in France, as in Soleil O and Les Bicots-negres,vos voisins, or the problems of colonization, as in West Indies (1979).
Through his films, Med Hondo hopes to raise the consciousness of his audience, particularly French viewers:
“I decided to make films to bring some black faces to the lily-white French screens…For three centuries, a whole people has been led to believe that it was superior and such an ideology has not been eradicated in spite of the independence of African countries. People should be educated about the richness of the African heritage and the discrimination faced by immigrants in France. I hope my films explain Africa and the crucial and burning issues faced by black people in Africa and abroad.”
Although Hondo’s films have been critically acclaimed at film festivals, their general distribution has been severely limited by censorship in Africa and, in some cases, France.
Lumiere Noire (Black Light, 1994)
Watani Un Monde Sans Mal (1998)
Fatima, l’Algérienne de Dakar (2004)