Asanti, Ta'Shia. "Sankofa." Lesbian News.
In the film Sankofa by Halle Gerima, the richness and power in African traditional religion is captured amidst the loyalty of women who fiercely loved and even died for each other. Sankofa also gives a historical look at the way oppressing and denying traditional religious practice was an intricate part of successfully taking Blacks into slavery. In order to be free, we must "return to ourselves," which is the meaning of the word Sankofa.
Nelson, Corinne. "Sankofa." Library Journal. New York: May 15, 1997.
Through the clever use of light and dark images, drum music, and storytelling, viewers experience the strength and defiance of slaves: among them Nunu, who has mysterious powers of clairvoyance, and Shango (Shola's love interest), who leads the final rebellion against the atrocities on the plantation...Beautifully produced, this excellent production is highly recommended for all libraries, especially those with African American collections.
Hartl, John. "Fighting to be Seen." http://www.film.com/film-review/1994/9366/109/default-review.html.
The movie isn't as polished as Roots or the African sections of The Color Purple, but it's filled with the kinds of unique moments that no studio film could touch: the surreal appearance of a self-appointed prophet who lectures 20th-century tourists; a disagreement among slaves about avenging the cruelty of white masters; a more heated argument that leads to unintentional matricide; the non-violent Ogunlano (Shola) character succumbing to the temptation of a machete.
Boon, Mike. "Sankofa." Calgary Herald. Aug. 9, 1999.
Many of the physical and emotional horrors depicted in Sankofa have been dramatized before. But Gerima, a professor of film at Washington's predominantly black Howard University, presents it with striking authenticity and vitality. The Ethiopian-born Gerima has a bold and dynamic visual style. He uses poetry, expressionistic staging and music for an intoxicating effect.
Millar, Jeff. "Sankofa." The Houston Chronicle.
SOMEWHERE in Sankofa, there's a powerful story and an engrossing historical document. But its narrative is confused, and its emotional impact is diminished by filmmaker Haile Gerima's art-cinema noodlings.
Thomas, Kevin. "SANKOFA DELIVERS POWERFUL INDICTMENT OF EVIL OF SLAVERY." New York Times.
Operatic in style, Sankofa brings to mind Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust in its use of highly theatrical tableaux, of rituals, of traditions of African storytelling and of its sense of the supernatural -- in this instance, recurring images of birds, symbolic of flight as well as life and death. Sankofa unfolds as a kind of oratorio -- the film's music in itself is incredibly rich and intoxicating -- in which people deal with terrible cruelty through ritual and incantations of the African gods. It is a celebration of the strength of black people, in drawing upon their spiritual roots, to defy their oppressors -- past and present alike.
James, Caryn. "Sankofa." New York Times.
In "Sankofa," a contemporary African-American woman travels back in time and experiences slavery. Haile Gerima's poetic and precisely detailed film takes its audience into its heroine's life and mind as her moral sense is challenged and changed. No viewer can avoid the discomforting questions the film so eloquently raises.
Carr, Jay. "Sankofa." Boston Globe.
Haile Gerima's Sankofa is a handsome, urgent slave's-eye view of slavery. Its vantage point is one you've never seen from Hollywood, and probably won't. Cinematically, Sankofa is every bit as rich as The Color Purple, but the similarities end there. Its strength is that it's not like a Hollywood film. This means it plays out more slowly than Hollywood's fast-paced industrial products. Sometimes it drags. But it never releases its grip on you. Ogunlano is compelling as the woman plunged back in time to her people's slave days, Mutabaruka is electrifying as Shango and Kofi Ghanaba convinces you that he's possessed as the old seer. Obviously, there are metaphorical and allegorical dimensions to Sankofa, and contemporary parallels. It isn't just a sermon or a period piece. It's a worthy film, made with passion and conviction and artistry, and it ought to be seen.
copyright (c) 2001 by Edgar Sanchez Undergraduate at The College of New Jersey