ARLIT, DEUXIEME PARIS
(ARLIT, A SECOND PARIS)

Benin, France 2005 | 78 Min. | 35 mm, OmeU
Q&A with: Idrissou Mora-Kpai

ARLIT is a slow film, quiet, with­out any hectic and with an affec­tion for small details. We are shown pic­tures of a dusty, dead town in Nige­ria, a for­eign world in which only the minor­i­ty has work since the large ura­ni­um mines near the town became unprof­itable. Arlit is a dis­ap­pear­ing town, in effect a town that has already dis­ap­peared. The “beau­ti­ful Arlit” that exist­ed in the heyday of the ura­ni­um mine, in which every­one was employed and many Euro­peans lived, which was referred to as the “second Paris” by many Africans, now remains only in mem­o­ries. Yet the wait­ress, who have noth­ing to do as no one visits their bar because they have absolute­ly noth­ing to sell which could be sold, know this Arlit only through sto­ries. Despite this they trav­elled there from Togo and for what­ev­er reason, stayed there.

Arlit is a film about migra­tion within Africa, about mass unem­ploy­ment and the incred­i­ble unscrupu­lous­ness with which the radioac­tive poi­son­ing of the pop­u­la­tion is put up with and denied. Old Issa, the man to whom this film is ded­i­cat­ed and who returned to Arlit with Mora-Kpai, died of lung cancer two weeks after the end of film­ing.