Director: Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Cameroon is a small, French-speaking, central African nation with a decent local filmmaking tradition. The Bloodettes, or “Les Saignantes” has the distinction of being the first science fiction film I’ve entered for this blog. Set in a futuristic depiction of the capital city Yaoundé, The Bloodettes is a story of sex, corruption, and supernatural powers. It’s a slick, stylish sci-fi thriller with a unique aesthetic and relentless pace, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The visual style is what stands out immediately. The city pulses with neon lights in sickly shades of blue, green, and red. A constant fog fills the streets, and much of the action takes place in dingy alleys and seedy backrooms. Everything from the set-design to the soundtrack is eerie and unsettling. Terms like cyber-punk and neo-noir come to mind; I was reminded of a film like Blade Runner or Dark City.
The film follows Majolie and Chouchou, two rebellious young women who have learned to use their sexuality to gain favours from the city’s corrupt ruling elite. However, when a high-ranking politician dies during a sexual encounter, the women are forced to go on the run and dispose of the body before daybreak.
Pursued by the police and only able to trust each other, the two women begin a frenetic journey through the hauntingly beautiful nightlife of the futuristic city. Using their feminine wiles and mysterious supernatural powers, they are forced to make an all-out stand against the corruption and decadence of the ruling class.
I always find it fascinating to see how genres with deeply entrenched conventions are approached in different countries. Whether it’s a horror movie from Antigua, an action movie from Bangladesh, or a road movie from Bhutan. Like some of the best sci-fi, The Bloodettes uses its futuristic setting to provide a commentary on the society in which it was made. It is, at heart, a politically minded film. Themes of government corruption and post-colonial urban development clearly resonate with Cameroonian audiences, and through his two sexually confident and independent heroines Bekolo also adds a message of female empowerment. Thematically and stylistically, therefore, it’s one of the most interesting films I’ve written about for this blog so far.