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By Heather Joslyn | Posted

Power may be the ultimate aphrodisiac, but the heart--or some other organ--wants what it wants. In Malian director Cheick Oumar Sissoko's 1995 outing Guimba, an infant girl betrothed to the son of a king grows up to be a beautiful young woman. Kani (Mouneissa Maiga) can have her share of suitors, but none dares incur the ruler's wrath. But her intended, Janguiné (Lamine Diallo), is a randy dwarf who wants no part of Kani because he's bewitched by her mother, Meya (Helene Diarra)--or, more specifically, by Meya's ample rump. Janguiné begs his father, Guimba (Falaba Issa Traore), to banish Meya's husband from the kingdom so that he may marry her, while Guimba sets his sights on the lovely, jilted Kani. Sissoko, aided by a deep bench of supporting players, wrings plenty of laughs from this comic soap opera and creates a richly colorful world in the film's pre-colonial Saharan city. All the while, he's working a theme that communicates in any language: sex, power, and the unexpected sparks those wires give off when crossed. In Bambara with English subtitles. (Heather Joslyn) At Johns Hopkins' Mountcastle Auditorium (725 N. Wolfe St.) Feb. 8.

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