4 user 7 critic

Na Cidade Vazia (2004)

A group of children, fleeing the war, is taken to Luanda accompanied by a nun. When they reach the aeroplane, 12-year-old N'Dala decides to leave the group and to reconnoitre the city. The ... See full summary »


Maria João Ganga

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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
João Roldan João Roldan ... N'dala (as Roldan Pinto Joäo)
Domingos Fernandes Fonseca Domingos Fernandes Fonseca ... Zè (Nganga)
Júlia Botelho Júlia Botelho ... Rosita
Ana Bustorff Ana Bustorff ... Religiosa
Raúl Rosário Raúl Rosário ... Joka
Custodio Francisco Custodio Francisco ... Pescador
Carlão Machado Carlão Machado ... Nandão
Pulquéria Bastos Pulquéria Bastos ... Professora
Edson K. de Almeida Edson K. de Almeida ... Nosa Luta
Lisandra Pita Lisandra Pita ... Socorrista
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Enoque Caracol Enoque Caracol


A group of children, fleeing the war, is taken to Luanda accompanied by a nun. When they reach the aeroplane, 12-year-old N'Dala decides to leave the group and to reconnoitre the city. The nun then starts her unceasing quest for the missing boy. N'Dala, only carrying a textile bag and a doll made of wire, walks through the busy streets filled with people and traffic. Later he finds the tranquility of the island off the coast, where he meets the old fisherman Antonio, with whom he becomes friends. Not much later, he meets the lively, whimsical Zé, who is a little older than he is. N'Dala starts to experience the city and its inhabitants as increasingly forbidding and he would most like to return to the countryside from whence he came. Then he meets Joka, a fringe figure who persuades him to help with a robbery in exchange for money. With this film, Maria Joao Ganga wanted to provide a realistic sketch of the bitter political situation in Angola. One of her most important motivations ... Written by Anonymous

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Angola | Portugal



Release Date:

18 January 2006 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Hollow City See more »

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The first movie ever made by an Angolan woman. See more »

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Angola's past and future
20 February 2015 | by lee_eisenbergSee all my reviews

Angola was a Portuguese colony for almost 500 years. The António Salazar-Marcelo Caetano military junta waged its own Vietnam War against Angola and Mozambique (referenced by Ethiopia's Haile Selassie in a 1968 speech, which Bob Marley turned into the song "War"). These wars drained Portugal's economy, and a small army overthrew the junta in 1974 and proceeded to give the colonies their independence. After the US suffered a humiliating defeat in Vietnam, Henry Kissinger decided to start another war just so that the US could look tough. Aligned with South Africa's apartheid government, the CIA backed warlord Jonas Savimbi. Cuban troops came in to back a different faction that was vying for power. In the context of this, soon-to-be lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked with South Africa's government to film a propaganda movie in Angola. Cuban and South African troops withdrew in the late 1980s, but the fighting continued until Savimbi's assassination in 2002.

Maria João Ganga's "Na cidade vazia" ("Hollow City" in English) looks at Angola in the wake of its devastating civil war. Told through the eyes of a boy wandering the streets of Luanda after his village got massacred, we see a society trying to pick itself back up. Even the poorest families try to make their residences look pretty. Nonetheless, Luanda is probably the closest connection that this boy to the outside world. He meanders through the city with a toy made of string while the children in the group from which he escaped act out a play about a heroic soldier. More adventures await him.

It's a really good movie. I like seeing movies that show us cultures that we rarely see. Even beyond that, it's a reminder of what happened there. I recommend it.

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