Maria João Ganga

1964 –
Airing In the Empty City/Hollow City (2004) on Wednesday, Sep. 9 at 6:00 AM on TCM

Although she has only directed one film, Maria João Ganga, Angola’s first female film director, has played a major role in bringing that country’s cinema and domestic issues to international audiences. Hollow City (2004) tells the story of N’dala, a child orphaned in the late 1980s during the Angolan Civil War. When a nun brings him and other children to Angola’s capital, Luanda, he escapes and tries to find his place in a bustling city filled with displaced children. Ganga was born in Huambo, Angola, in 1964 and studied at the Ecole Superieure Libra d’Etudes Cinematographiques in Paris. She worked as assistant director on several documentaries, most notably Abderrahmane Sissako’s award-winning Rostov-Luanda (1998). 

In 1989, Ganga started working on Hollow City and spent the next 15 years developing the script from Artur Carlos Mauricio Pestana dos Santos’ novel and raising funds. The film won a Special Jury Prize at the Paris Film Festival. However, lack of federal funding kept her from producing more films, but Ganga has worked extensively in the theater, helping found the Casa das Artes in Talatona, Angola.

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Hollow City (2004)