DYNAMIC AFRICA

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Posts tagged "film"

I do what I want [x]

(via thefemaletyrant)

"Femme" is a short black-and-white fashion film shot by Ghubar founder and editor-in-chief Sarah Diouf.

Filmed in Senegal’s capital Dakar, we are taken on a woman’s journey around the city - from the back of a taxi cab to one of the city’s markets - accompanied by poetic prose from writer Mufida Sedqawi whose words tell “the universal story of the rebirth of a woman who loved and hurt.”

In this short film by Harriet Fleuriot, Rachel King and Karen Bengo, as we encounter different elements of light, dark, wind and flora, model and dancer Karen Bengo takes us on a creative and beautiful journey of space, movement and freedom of expression.

So lovely!

A film by HARRIET FLEURIOT, RACHEL KING and KAREN BENGO
Movement and direction KRISTINA & SADÉ ALLEYNE
Camera and lighting assistant BEN NEWBURY
Make-up OLUBUNMI OGEDENGBE
Clothing GEORGIA HARDINGE
Accessories FLEET ILYA / ANNA PESONEN
Styling ERIN LAWRIE
Soundtrack: “Amsterdam (Sun Glitters Remix)” by LASERS facebook.com/lasersounds
Thanks SARAH COCKINGS and PRYORS FARM

karenonline.com

Writer Amira Ali Reviews Noaz Deshe’s ‘White Shadow’ and looks at the Representation of Africans in this Film.

Stories work with people, for people, and always stories work on people, affecting what people are able to see as real, as possible, and as worth doing or best avoided –Arthur Frank.

At the 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival, a group of us more inclined about the albino story attended the screening of White Shadow. A film by a Berlin-based Israeli director, Noaz Deshe; his debut, said to have been inspired by the ostracizing and albino killings prized by superstition in rural Tanzania.

The director was in Dar es Salaam on a film teaching assignment when he learned about Albino Witchcraft Murders, a Storyville documentary aired on BBC. The feature on “deep-rooted superstition, that leads to the belief that procuring the arm, legs, fingers, skin or hair of an albino person and brewing it into a potion will make them rich,” instantly appealed to the director leading to the production of a documentary-like with a fictional feature improvisation. It prompted the galvanization of a group of people who assisted in the production and quick research conducted in Berlin, with an urgency that resulted in an instant screenplay co-written with James Masson.

White Shadow is a story about Alias. The protagonist is an adolescent albino boy acted movingly and remarkably by an amateur, Hamisi Bazili. Alias, after witnessing the murder of his albino father by a group of men gets sent off by his mother from his rural home to find refuge in the city with her brother, Kosmos. Under his uncle’s care, a truck driver struggling to make ends meet, Alias quickly adapts to life in the city. Upon arrival, thrown into a culture of selling products on the streets of a big city, he discovers ways of earning a living in the urban milieu. In the city, wrestling with identity, hardship of a city life and the need for childhood comfort he often leaves the city to find ease with his albino community. Eventually realizing that the same rules of survival apply wherever he may be. 

A fiction film with a personal and impressionistic view of albinos in Tanzania, the story is premised around what the creator has gathered to be [his] objective verity. Dancing between fiction and non-fiction, the film is entrenched with graphic scenes of blood and gore presenting the African men as godless beasts; men in the lowest position humanely. Wrenched out by an aching and broken world, the scenes force an uncomfortable shifting in seat and shielding eyes from men mercilessly hacking a man’s body with a machete. A storyline that depicts forlorn humanity in rural Tanzania and extends the construct to implicate the city and a whole culture; bringing to the fore all the complexities with little nuances that give way to its understanding.

Most of the scenes are entrenched with adventures through a sinful city accompanied with images of a young generation inheriting the troubles and burdens of old tradition. Witchcraft and sorcery in the rural areas are put up against church priests. Much like when colonialism presented local beliefs as evil and uncouth, while religion emergent from the West is projected to save Africa from its sinful indigenous ways. Alongside is an episode of men and women in the city quarreling over the dead on whether to have a Muslim or Christian burial, the family obviously split between two religious practices. Thrown into the disarrayed event, to ensure a noisy and passionate farewell, is the hiring of a traditional mourner straight off the street.

A city projected to be at odds with itself, broken by perplexities, economics, sex and violence. And rural Tanzania framed as divided and shadowy while sorcery and the occult maintains a strong foothold. Underneath all the implications, while all scenarios lead to systemic injustice and economics – taking into account the witchdoctors, middlemen and the clients who pay for albino body parts– the story irresponsibly and insensitively places emphasis upon cultural and traditional aspects, with little to no historical and political context.

Fiction and Responsibility

It is said that the difference between truth and fiction is that fiction has to make sense. That fiction and non-fiction are only different techniques of storytelling. Further, I believe, fiction has the same social responsibility, duty of integrity and sensitivity that is expected from non-fiction.Thus, in narrating whole culture as disoriented and iniquitous, the enormity of the albino condition and witchcraft killing feels minimized in White Shadow. It is minimized by a shortfall of a feel for the place –lived cultural experience– and an absence of comprehension of historical and political consequence of a culture.

Subsequent to the viewing, during the Q&A, the director made it clear that he was more concerned about the artistic formation with an emphasis on creating strong lead characters. When asked how he feels about portraying such an account with no historical or political context, and what that may do to the foreign audience’s psyche who may already have a poor image of Africa. He made it clear again that he was more concerned with portraying strong lead characters.

If it is indeed merely a feature film, purely for entertainment purposes, even then it falls short of moral dereliction as it goes back and forth between reality and heavily de-saturated themes –flirting between fiction and non-fiction. In constructing and narrating such human tragedy, I believe a teller should be held answerable for the story it tells. Responsible for the character(s) it creates. Especially as it insensitively puts them up against each other’s culture while representing an entire culture as brutal and immoral, and under inspection for gruesome crimes. Typical of most African films and stories told by the West, while “even the most liberal filmmakers can’t resist. They’ve got a God-complex,” as stated, by Biyi Bandele.

In White Shadow, the hero is not a western man or woman but a fictionalized character emerging from a western idea. An idea that stresses on division as it puts an African in opposition to a fellow African, inimical to our interests. An idea that portrays us as merciless and leaves us in a quandary, as it places African indigenous belief systems as barbaric and immoral while belief systems emergent from the West are depicted as exemplar of civilization and ideal piety in a world of persistent savagery.

By no means am I attempting to avoid or turn a blind eye to the harrowing accounts and killings of the African albinos. That is not the point of this piece. But rather, I wonder whom this film is written for? Who it aspires to serve? How it aims to shift or bring an end to the atrocity? Who has the right to challenge and narrate particularities of a culture? How does the unverified and under-researched narrative change the world for better? A world that ought to educate and facilitate knowledge to the young and coming generation, I can’t help but wonder how our children will make sense of such a film and make the appropriate correlation between those things that have been used to define our existence and the actual.

In the end, White Shadow, while attempting to speak of an enormity is regrettably stymied by its western representation and gaze. Leaving brutal images implanted in the psyche and too many questions left unanswered. A world, yet again, left to grapple with compositions fixated on dark and savage images coming out of Africa, with no historical context to critically examine the circumstance further. An audience left shocked and hopelessly unsure with what to do next.

toblackgirls:

The BFI London Film Festival is nearly here! We’ve gone through the programme to find all the films starring women of colour. There are admittedly a lot more than we were expecting including Girlhood, Honeytrap and the much anticipated Dear White People.  

(left to right) 

1. Girlhood 

Céline Sciamma (Water Lilies, Tomboy) continues her exploration of the effects of social conventions on delicately forming female identities in her triumphant third film. Sixteen-year-old Marieme (Karidja Touré) must navigate not only the disruptive onset of womanhood, but also the inequalities of being black and living in the underprivileged suburbs of Paris. Excluded from school and in fear of her overbearing brother at home, Marieme escapes into the shielding environment of a girl gang. She renames herself ‘Vic’ for ‘Victory’ and gives up on asking for the things she wants and learns to just take them. Formally meticulous, the film is divided into four distinct segments in which Marieme changes her physical appearance to suit the different worlds she must navigate (school, home, street). Each transformation magnificently captures the heavy burden that visibility and image play in Marieme’s life, whilst Crystel Fournier’s stunning photography that favours a distinctive blue palette ensures that Marieme remains a defiantly vital presence on screen even while it appears she is disappearing from society’s view. The jubilant soundtrack infuses the film with vigour and passion, from the opening juddering electro-goth of Light Asylum’s ‘Dark Allies’ to a full length lip sync to Rhianna’s ‘Diamonds’. With Girlhood Sciamma flawlessly evokes the fragile resilience of youth.

2. My Friend Victoria 

Adapted from a story by Doris Lessing, My Friend Victoria is a complex, poignant portrait of two young black women in contemporary Paris. The film follows them from childhood into adulthood, with the older Fanny narrating the story of her friend and adoptive sister. Aged eight, Victoria spends a night in the home of a wealthy white family; years later, she encounters them again and her life is changed forever. As Fanny and Victoria’s destinies take them in separate directions, the drama offers a distinctly fresh take on racial identity in contemporary France – and on questions of class, privilege and blinkered liberal racism. Superbly acted by newcomers Guslagie Malanda and Nadia Moussa, along with veterans Mouchet and Greggory, My Friend Victoria sees Jean-Paul Civeyrac returning to the LFF after his poetic, elegant Young Girls in Black (2010). His follow-up is an acutely intelligent achievement by a director whose time has surely come.

3. Second Coming 

It’s a bold move to make your debut theatrical feature a modern day take on such a big theological ‘What If?’, and Debbie Tucker Green astonishes with this London-set drama, where the newest family member is neither expected nor biologically possible. Jax (Marshall) works in the welfare office, lives with tube-worker husband (Elba), and their sensitive, nature-loving son JJ who, on the cusp of manhood is constantly looking around him for cues on how to make this transition. It’s rare to see a woman on-screen who remains so taciturn in the face of inner turmoil and as Jax’s self-possession begins to frustrate her friends and family, the film ramps up the tension with Nadine Marshall’s performance creating one of the most unshakable characters in recent memory. Taking the ‘kitchen sink’ tradition of social realism to a fresh new place, it’s a film that lingers, and marks Green as an immediate new voice in British cinema.

4. Honeytrap 

Layla (Jessica Sula) is 15 and has been living in Trinidad. Returned to her estranged mother in Brixton, she is faced with settling into a new home and a new city with a fresh set of rules and codes. Unsupported by her mother and spitefully rejected by her female peers, she is drawn to the brooding Troy, who marks her as his ‘Trini princess’. When that fails, she takes solace in the friendship of Shaun, another admirer, but her desperate need for acceptance leads to a tragic betrayal of his kindness. Director Rebecca Johnson was inspired by real life cases and explores gang culture from a girl’s perspective. Moving beyond the headlines, Johnson gives us an intricately layered and rarely seen perspective – firmly located in the domain of a young girl becoming a woman in a hyper-masculine world. Sula’s performance here is flawless, perfectly capturing the agonising contradiction of Layla’s choice.

5. Appropriate Behaviour 

Shirin breaks up with Maxine, clutching only a strap-on dildo as she storms across Brooklyn. It’s hardly what polite society would deem appropriate behaviour – which is precisely what writer-director-star Desiree Akhavan sets out to challenge in her fearless feature debut. There isn’t an aspect of life that her protagonist, a twentysomething bisexual Iranian-American, can’t overcomplicate and sabotage, be it cultural, professional, sexual or emotional. Veering from desperate bed hopping to disastrous kindergarten moviemaking classes, Akhavan spares herself – and us – nothing of Shirin’s solipsistic neuroses. So it’s all the more impressive that her bracing honesty (‘You can’t keep playing the Persian card’ Maxine scolds) and deft, witty characterisations make for such engaging, empathetic company. The setting, subject and lack of inhibition virtually guarantee Lena Dunham (Girls) comparisons, but Akhavan’s ethnically and sexually specific search for identity onscreen marks out a topography and artistic voice very much her own.

6. Catch Me Daddy 

On the run from her traditional Pakistani family, 17-year-old Laila, along with her boyfriend Aaron, has fled her home for the imposing landscapes of the Yorkshire Moors. As the couple attempt to forge an anonymous existence, unbeknownst to them two groups of men are on their trail, intent on catching up with the young lovers and exacting a brutal punishment at the orders of Laila’s father. Working with famed cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Fish Tank, The Angel’s Share), who captures the vast expanses of the Pennines to stunningly ominous effect, and boasting a devastating central performance by newcomer Sameena Jabeen Ahmed, Daniel and Matthew Wolfe’s hugely impressive debut is a complex and challenging piece of work. In many ways evocative of a British social realist take on John Ford’s The Searchers, with a near-noirish sense of pessimism and bleakness, the film’s observations on family dynamics, race and class are both brutally nihilistic and poetically affecting.

7. August Winds 

The setting of this haunting debut feature from Gabriel Mascaro is a remote village on Brazil’s northeast coast. Shirley (Dandara de Morais), a young woman from the city, has moved there in order to look after her ageing grandmother. She starts dating Jeison (Geová Manoel dos Santos) and gains employment from a local farmer. Filming his actors and the landscape with an unhurried, watchful sensitivity that reflects his documentary background, Mascaro creates an atmospheric portrait of life in this remote community, in particular charting Shirley and Jeison’s heady romance with seductive sensuality. He also introduces a note of disquiet with the arrival of a researcher (played by the director himself) to record the sounds of the changing coastal winds. It also becomes apparent that the village is facing the devastating consequences of global warming. A melancholy and visually sumptuous reflection on a threatened way of life.

8.  Dear White People 

Trouble is brewing at prestigious Ivy League Winchester College. The sole black-only fraternity is to be diversified, to the disgust of firebrand campus DJ Sam White (caustic host of ‘Dear White People’). So when Sam accidentally becomes hall president and word spreads of a rival white college’s ‘African-American-themed party’, she and her fellow black students must reassess where they belong in an alleged ‘post-racial’ Obama nation. Whereas many films that tackle issues reduce their characters to mouthpieces, Justin Simien’s razor-sharp satire makes all his protagonists thrillingly nuanced and conflicted. Visually inventive (the fourth wall regularly takes a pummelling) yet controlled, it’s in the idea stakes that Simien really lets fly, nailing cultural preconceptions of all colours. Early Spike Lee comparisons – notable School Daze and Do The Right Thing – are inevitable and somewhat courted, but Simien passionately makes his own case for provocative, relevant filmmaking: we’ve gotta have it.

9. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night 

In the deadbeat Iranian ghost town of Bad City, a lone female vampire stalks the streets at night searching for prey. One of the town’s residents is Arash, who through a series of events involving his junkie father, a prostitute and a drug-dealing pimp, encounters the enigmatic bloodsucker and an unlikely love story begins to unfold. Plot may well be secondary to the striking visual language of Ana Lily Amirpour’s arresting debut; its deliberately enigmatic narrative allowing for a superbly ambitious exercise in style and atmosphere. With its stark black and white photography, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is in many ways evocative of the works of Jim Jarmusch, although ironically it bears the strongest resemblance to his early masterwork Stranger than Paradise than it does his own recent vampire film Only Lovers Left Alive. But while Amirpour’s influences are clear, in her effortless blending of multiple genres and monochromatic evocation of a matriarchal underworld, her voice as a singular and exciting new talent is undeniable. If you only see one Iranian vampire western this year, make sure it’s this one.

10. Difret (TW: Rape) 

An affecting feature debut, Difret details the traumatic experience of an Ethiopian girl accused of killing a man who sexually abused her. On her way back home from school, 14-year-old Hirut (Tizita Hagere) is kidnapped by a gang of men and forced into marrying their leader Tadele. She is beaten and raped but manages to free herself, escaping with the rifle she uses to shoot her abductor. Arrested and charged with murder, local justice requires that Hirut is executed and then buried with her victim. However, on hearing about her case a courageous lawyer (Meron Getnet) decides to defend her – at great risk to her own career. Difret, which means ‘courage’ in Amharic, is a delicate yet impassioned story that offers empowerment and hope to countless women all over the world.

More films (not pictured): Beti and Amare, Self Made, War Book and Labour of Love

Tickets go on sale at 10am on Thursday 18th September. You can see the full listing (and any films we missed) as well as information about how to buy tickets on the BFI London FIlm Festival website

(via naijaboi)

TRAILER: “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace”.

New documentary investigates Wiley’s life and identity as it relates to his artwork and the Western hegemonic world of art in which he must navigate as a black African-American artist.

The film had its premiere in the US on PBS on September 5th so be sure to check your local listings to see when its on next. Don’t have PBS? US residents can try stream it online here.

FILM TRAILER: “The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo” (Dir. Yaba Badoe).

Capturing and telling the life story of woman whose creative journey spans over seven decades is no easy feat. However, that didn’t stop fellow Ghanaian filmmaker Yaba Badoe (The Witches of Gambaga) from trying, something we’re glad she did.

One of Africa’s most well-renowned authors - whether female or otherwise, Commonwealth Writers Prize-winning Ghanaian writer Ama Ata Aidoo has been an important voice in African feminism and anti-colonial narratives, even at a time when Ghana was under colonialism. In the 1960s, Aidoo made history by becoming the first published African woman dramatist. Since then, she has gone on to write several novels and works of poetry including her first novel, Our Sister Killjoy, her novel Changes: a Love Story which won the 1992 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Africa), and her poetry collection Someone Talking to Sometime that won the Nelson Mandela Prize for Poetry in 1987.

Featuring interviews with Aidoo and other important and influential figures in her life and in literature, the film illustrates how Aidoo’s story is both unique yet highly relatable to many.

'Til this day, Aidoo remains a “trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent.”

Watch a second teaser here.

Producers of ‘Nairobi Half Life’ Bring to Life New Kenyan Drama ‘VEVE’.

Homegrown Kenyan political thriller ‘VEVE’ is an action-packed drama that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Recently screened at this year’s Durban International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere, VEVE is the latest film from the producers of one of Kenya’s most talked about films Nairobi Half Life.

Set in the Kenyan town of Maua in the north of the country, VEVE is crime thriller that follows the lives of several characters as they find themselves navigating a world of political intrigue, revenge, love and ambitious aspirations for success, all centered around VEVE - a local term for the plant stimulant known more commonly as ‘khat’.

Directed by Simon Mukali and written by Natasha Likimani, the film stars a range of local actors including Emo Rugene as leading man ‘Kenzo’, Lowry Odhiambo as ‘Amos’, a shrewd businessman, and Lizz Njagah as ‘Esther’, Amos’ dissatisfied wife.

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Cecile Emeke’s ‘Strolling’ Series Documents and Gives A Voice to Diasporan Youth in the UK.

Armed with the objective of removing the veil of invisibility cast upon young black voices and faces, Strolling is a multimedia series created by filmmaker Cecile Emeke that sees her walking through the streets of London with other young black individuals discussing any and everything that concerns their daily realities. Strolling was birthed from Emeke’s everyday conversations with friends and acquaintances that often found her sentiments about issues relating to life as a young diasporan African in the UK being echoed, inspiring the filmmaker in her to document these interactions.

Whilst the series adopts a one-way casual form of dialogue, the importance of this project is not in any way diminished by the nature of the conversation. Rather, the messages embedded in these videos are all the more amplified by this form of broadcast, and the visual communicative platform allows the audiences to engage with the individuals without interrupting their agency or representation of themselves.

As Emeke says:

"Growing up in London I was not reflected anywhere, not fully. I think most of us tried to grasp on to images of African-American culture, and we tried to cling on to our identities from the Caribbean and Africa. We’d wave our Jamaica flags at carnival and watch reruns of fresh prince but ultimately nothing reflected us. We didn’t exist.

Part of the aim of erasure is to alienate you and therefore silence you. Strolling is the complete and utter rejection of this implicit call to silence and the self-destructive assimilation required for survival.”

In this video, Abraham strolls through Hackney with Emeke as he chats to her (and us) about everything from male feminists, patriarchy, crying, to “great” Britain, reparations for Africa, Palestine, Boko Haram, hair and more.

The full playlist is embedded above.

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Movie Mondays: Watch South African Marikana Documentary ‘Miners Shot Down’ in Full.

Filmmaker Rehad Desai looks into the incidents surrounding the 2012 massacre of protesting mine workers at the Lonmin Platinum mine in Marikana, as well as the socio-political implications of this shocking and tragic event. 

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Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People - Soon Showing at Film Forum.

A compelling documentary, from the looks of the trailer alone, by filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris that looks at the visual history of black people in America through the power of photography.

On one hand, Harris delves into the world of black photographers in the United States who have used the camera to define themselves and re-create narratives that speak to African-American experiences and audiences on a fundamental level. On the other hand, the film looks at how the same medium of photography was used as a political and propagandist tool to demean and continuously oppress America’s black population through racist imagery. 

The film was inspired by Deborah Willis’s book, Reflections in Black,and sheds light on the profound importance and influence of how art can be used both as a form of empowerment and suppression. 

Through A Lens Darkly is will be on show at New York’s Film Forum from August 27th until September 6th

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Movie Mondays: “Burning An Illusion” - Dir. Menelik Shabazz (1981).

Pat is a single woman, employed, financially independent, carefree and living in her own flat in London, until she meets suave and smooth talking Del. The two start dating and it isn’t long before Del moves in with Pat.

At first, things seem rosy between the them, that is, until Del quits (or loses) his job. As newly unemployed Del becomes more complacent with his situation, fully relying and taking advantage of the care that Pat and her job provide for him, their relationship takes a quick downward spiral and it isn’t long before things heatedly escalate.

Burning An Illusion is a powerful and important film for so many reasons. Not only does it feature a black woman as the central character, Pat - played by Cassie McFarlane - is a woman with complexities that defy stereotypes of black women throughout the history of Western cinema. She’s both strong and sensitive, defiant and desperate, lovestruck and lonely.

The film also tackles a number of issues related to gender roles and expectations within the Afro-Caribbean British community, black consciousness, race, class and other socio-economic factors that personally affect the film’s many characters.

In making this film writer and director Menelik Shabazz, born in Barbados, became the second black filmmaker to produce a feature film in Britain. Shabazz is also the founder of the BFM (Black Filmmakers) Film Festival in England.

The film won the Grand Prix at the Amiens International Film Festival in France, and  actress Cassie McFarlane won the Evening Standard Award for “Most Promising New Actress”.

Burning an Illusion and director Menelik Shabazz were honoured with a Screen Nation Classic Film Award in October 2011.

The relationship between Pat and Del at times reminded me of the couple in Nothing But A Man.

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"Dear White People" Official Full Length Trailer.

Get a nearly three minute dose of one the most highly anticipated films of the year and the winner of the U. S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

"Anita: Speaking Truth to Power."

Recently watched this powerful and compelling documentary about Anita Hill and the sexual assault case where she provided testimony against Judge Clarence Thomas who was then nominated for the US Supreme Court.

At the time Hill, who was a former employee of Thomas’ (who shamefully called the proceedings a case of ‘high-tech lynching’ as a way to deflect from the issue of sexual harassment by using race as a factor - the only factor), was a law professor at the University of Oklahoma where she grew up. She gave her testimony live on national television in October 1991 and, unbeknownst to her, the effect of her decision to speak out would almost immediately spark what the Boston Globe called, “a passionate debate about sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere”, and one that is far from over.

In a world where gender and racial oppression are systemic, and where victims are blamed and perpetrators shielded by the oppressive and shaming nature of rape culture, Anita Hill’s story remains both relevant and necessary in its telling. What’s I found particularly interesting about the film is how director Freida Mock conveyed this story in such a way that made it both Anita’s story and that of so many women in the United States and around the world.

Hill, now a professor and Brandeis University, has dedicated much of her life to speaking about sexual harassment and gender issues, as well as how these matters often intersect with race, as well as helping others find their voice. 

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