Karmen Geï

Karmen Geï

Senegal, 2001, 86 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: France, Canada
Genre/Subjects: Black / African American, Lesbian, Musical
Program: Michael Lumpkin Retrospective
Language: French, Wolof

DIRECTOR: Joseph Gaï Ramaka

Many versions of the Carmen story have been told over the years, but when Karmen Geï debuted at Frameline26 in 2002, no one had ever experienced anything quite like its explosive mix of West African drums, fantastic dance numbers and scenes of sexual transgression, nor had they seen a heroine as fascinating as the vibrant, heroic woman at the center of the story. As Shari Frilot wrote in her notes for that Festival, this Karmen is no opportunistic trollop or femme fatale; she is intelligent, compassionate and in full control of her powerful sexuality.
Director Joseph Gaï Ramaka transplants the classic story from a cigarette factory in Spain to the underground smuggling world of Senegal. Karmen escapes a women’s penitentiary, leaving her beautiful lover—warden Angelique—to pine and writhe in the absence of her passions. Returning to the helm of her crime racket, Karmen denounces the corrupt police who have “swallowed up the country” and lures the soon-to-be superintendent, Lamine, away from his new bride and into her fold of good-natured thieves. She continues to attract suitors, fans and followers, but only her old friend Samba fully understands her free and passionate spirit and is worthy of putting her body to rest.

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