Cleveland International Film Festival } April 7 – April 20, 2021


Year: 1999
Country: Cameroon
Run Time: 61 minutes

In Cameroon if you steal one chicken you could be lynched. If you steal the treasury, you get to be chief. According to Jean-Marie Teno, the chief problem keeping most of black Africa backward and ignorant is the Chief Problem. There are neighborhood chiefs, village chiefs, army/police chiefs, bureaucratic chiefs, without whose permission (usually through bribery) nothing gets done, and whose Rolexed hands dip into every wallet and relief shipment. In this blistering first-person visual essay, Teno proposes that a cherished tribal tradition of loyalty to a single wise leader has been bastardized into tiers of petty bosses, strongmen and gangsters, "chiefs, more chiefs, always chiefs," right up to the country's dictator, who revokes freedom of the press and perpetuates an inhumane prison system at his chief-ly whim. Since no woman can be chief, the society is an unbending patriarchy; you'll witness a chief-infested civil marriage service that makes the Promise Keepers look like Up With Wiccans. With the spear-tipped eloquence of an African Andrei Codrescu, Teno uses his camera to expose all the mis-chief. (In French with English subtitles.)

Jean-Marie Teno.

Jean-Marie Teno

Jean-Marie Teno.

Jean-Marie Teno.

Christiane Badgley.

Principal Cast
Narrator: Jean-Marie Teno.

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