July 19, 2021
Luanda is afflicted with a plague of AC units falling off buildings in this downbeat, appropriately low-tech, science fiction
Air Conditioner review – tech begins to fail in enigmatic Angolan Afrofuturism
If Wakandan boffins put Afrofuturism back on the map in Black Panther, this short, quirky Angolan feature is Afrofuturism when the service guarantee runs out on the technology. It’s a magic-realist parable with the thinnest shrinkwrapping of sci-fi: Angola’s capital Luanda is afflicted by a strange plague of air conditioning units falling from buildings, as if they are committing suicide. Security guard Matacedo (José Kiteculo) is tasked with heading out into the street to recover an AC for his sweltering boss, some kind of city bigwig, hectored by his housemaid Zézinha (Filomena Manuel).
Director Fradique does pick at a vein of social commentary – the cooling crisis notably affects the poor more than the rich – but it is just one minor element in a swirling, enigmatic experience. Tracked by a lilting Steadicam, the inquisitive-faced Matacedo walks the cities’ roads, corridors and homes in search of the unit. He seems to telepathically ask questions about its whereabouts, stops to play chequers with bottletops, and finally winds up at a repair shop run by Mr Mino (David Caracol), a greybearded oddball who claims the ACs are falling for a reason: “Just as the fruits come loose from the branches when ripe.” He insists that they are recording the city’s memories, and plugs the units into cathode-ray TVs to grainily display them.
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