Cannes 2015: Where is Africa?


As usual, Africa was under-represented at the Cannes Film Festival, and the
selections indicated an essentially Francophone prism. Screen Africa reports on this
year’s selection.


by Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman
USA – 82 min – International Sales: The Film Sales Company (USA)

Samba Gadjigo is Sembene Ousmane’s biographer. His admiration for the “elder of
the eldest’ African filmmakers came at the age of 17 when he discovered the
filmmaker’s book God’s Bits of Wood. From their first meeting in 1989 until
Sembene’s death in 2007, Gadjigo never stopped filming his mentor. Gadjigo first
wanted to set up a website where he could display all the videos he shot, but this
was ultimately edited into a seven-year documentary project with the support of
Jason Silverman. “I am not a filmmaker, this is why it took so long,’ says Gadjigo.
The structure of the film is essentially that of an autobiography inside a
biography,as Gadjigo tells his own story in the context of that of his hero’s.
Sembene! recounts Ousmane’s career without avoiding his familial troubles or
filmmakers’ conflicts. An interesting piece for those who wish to understand the
man who created Xala, Ceddo, Emitai, Thiaroye’s Camp and Black Girl.


by Yared Zeleke
Éthiopie – 94 min – International Sales: Film Distribution (FR)

Yared Zeleke’s first feature was shot in 36 days in Gondar and Bali (Ethiopia) with a
€1.5 million budget and a cast selected out of 6500 people. Depicting the friendship
between a young boy (the brilliant Rediat Amare) and a lamb (the same one for the
entire shoot!) in a rural Ethiopian village, Zeleke tells the story of the forgotten,
suffering from famine, who struggle to live in the countryside instead of the
“Back in the 80s, people had bad images of Ethiopia in mind, with the famine. I
wanted them to see green mountains,’ says Zeleke. “We must tell our stories, not
have our stories told by others.’


by Souleymane Cisse
Mali – 96 min – International sales: Patou Films International (France)

In 2008, Souleymane Cisse’s sisters were ejected from the family ancestral
concession in Bamako. Revolted by the event, Cisse gave the floor to his family and
the authorities to understand why the house was taken without any agreement.

Talking about the Cisse past, the filmmaker also recounts his career and the
Jihadist war taking place in the north of hte country. “I didn’t plan to be in my
movie but it is a testimony for my children and grandchildren,’ says Cisse.
Unfortunately, his attempt to remove the frontiers between fiction, documentary
and news, doesn’t really work and his personal look on Mali, family and heritage
benefits more from his glorious past than from its content.


Much Loved
by Nabil Ayouch
Morocco – 108 min – International Sales: Celluloid Dreams (France) info@celluloid-

For his seventh feature, Nabil Ayouch didn’t receive any payment from the
Moroccan Cinema Centre. By setting up his story among four prostitutes in
Marrakech, he analyzes the Moroccan society and its social pecularities, using the
daily “business’ of prostitution as metaphor. Much Loved is a strong piece
commenting on men’s behavior towards women they desire, love, pay and
disrespect at the same time. During its release in Cannes, the movie generated a
massive buzz on the internet because of Morocco’s disapproval of the subject
matter; it remains uncertain if it will be released in Morocco. This movie confirms
Ayouch’s talent to address the unseen and the invisible in his films.

Written by Claire Diao


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here