São Tomé Agricola e Industrial / São Tomé - Agricultural and Industrial
by Augusto Seara
(Documentary, Portugal, 1929, 11'47”, BW, silent, Fr ST)
Colonial films showing the work of Africans are rare. Here the exploitation system is precisely exposed. Deportees (from Angola) disembark from a boat. After the humiliating inspection of the bodies, it is the signature, on the finger, of the contract. Then are shown the works – cultivation, harvesting, bagging of cocoa -, as well as “education” and recreation. Contratados were forced into forced labour in violent and abusive conditions. This system, which replaced slavery, remained in force in the African colonies until 1961.
The Cinematographic Brigades of 1929
In order to make known the colonies of the Empire in the international exhibitions that are multiplying in Europe, the General Agency of Colonies sends three “Cinematographic Brigades” to Africa. The Army Film Service sends its operator Augusto Seara to the islands of São Tomé and Prince and then to Guinea-Bissau. Another film crew, composed of António Antunes da Mata, director, and operator César de Sá, will bring back from Angola a dozen short films. The Mozambique Brigade is led by Fernandes Tomaz. These teams produced several short films, some of which were presented in the Ibero-American Exhibition in Seville (1929), the International, Colonial, Maritime and Flemish Art Exhibition in Antwerp (1930) and the International Colonial Exhibition in Paris (1931). The four films dated 1929 are particularly interesting for the eclecticism of their subjects and treatments. They reveal that the missions were probably not very defined in terms of content and political objectives.