Film Review by Kam Williams
Musical Documentary Examines the African Roots of the Tango
The word “tango” mean “sun” in Congolese. Given that derivation, it comes as no surprise that the dance thought of as South American might be traced back to Africa.
That explains the mission of Tango Negro, a labor of love marking the writing and directorial debut of Dom Pedro. What makes the project of educational value is the fact that Argentina, the country most closely associated with Tango, has generally been averse to admitting its African heritage.
Truth be told, a post-slavery purge of blacks there resulted in a whitening of the region by the early 20th Century. For, while the descendants of Congolese slaves were being slaughtered or run out of the country, immigration was encouraged by settlers from Italy, France, Lebanon and Syria.
Thus, it is argued in Tango Negro that “the history of the Americas is an absolute lie, from the extermination of the indigenous peoples to the destruction of African cultures.” And it is further stipulated that this shameful legacy “will have to be acknowledged for reconciliation to occur.”
Besides the revisionist lessons this informative documentary includes numerous songs and performances of the Tango. Unfortunately, the music proves to be the low point of the picture, due to its woefully low-production values.
Nevertheless, three ole’s to director Dom Pedro for daring to raise the taboo subject right in Buenos Aires, an ethnically-cleansed environ where it’s admittedly hard to find any dark-skinned citizens.
Ole! Ole! Ole!
Very Good (3 stars)
In Spanish, French and English with subtitles
Running time: 93 minutes
Distributor: ArtMattan Productions