“The world is old, but the future comes from the past”. Over and over again the griots repeat this beginning of the Sundjata epic. And yet this basic truism is not easy to apply. How will this young filmmaker, daughter of Wasis Diop and niece of the most legendary of African filmmakers, Djibril Diop Mambety, eager to bring forth her vision of the present world, be able to proceed within the delicate equation of a magnificently rich and at the same time an undoubtedly weighty heritage?
First Footage From Mati Diop's 'Mille Soleils' ('A Thousand Suns') - An Homage To The Classic 'Touki Bouki'
Mati Diop’s latest, Mille Soleils (A Thousand Suns), continues to travel the international film festival circuit, and will next screen at Art of the Real 2014, Film Society Lincoln Center’s new annual series of nonfiction showcase founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film. The inaugural edition features new work from around the world alongside retrospective selections by both known and *forgotten* filmmakers. It’s co-programmed by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes.
Diop’s documentary explores the legacy of the seminal 1972 film, Touki Bouki, made by her uncle, the late Senegalese auteur, Djibril Diop Mambety.
In the film, Diop journeys in search of her origins through the footprints left by her uncle’s film, and along the way gets to know Touki Bouki‘s lead actor Magaye Niang, thirty five years later.
Based on his own story and script, Djibril Diop Mambéty reportedly made Touki Bouki with a $30,000 budget. Often compared to films of the French New Wave, Mambety puts his stamp on a film that incorporates stylistic flourishes that were considered uncharacteristic of most African films at the time. The film both highlights and struggles with the hybridization of Senegal.
There’s an insolence that’s expressed in it, we could say, a freedom from formality, as well as a great sense of humor.
As Mati Diop has insisted, it’s also the film where her uncle reveals himself the most.
Her exploration of Touki Bouki should be an interesting watch. I don’t believe a documentary has ever been made that celebrates the film, and considers its legacy, given its significance in African cinema history.
It recently received (finally) a proper restoration and re-release in HD on Blu-ray (courtesy of Criterion’s Martin Scorsese World Cinema Project), preserving but also reintroducing it to new generations, and those who are just not aware of it.
The African Women In Cinema blog published a wonderful analysis of Mati Diop’s documentary ode, anointing her as “a defining figure of new cinematographic forms,” which you can read in full HERE.
Here’s a snip:
Again, you can read the analysis in full HERE.
Ahead of its screening at Art of the Real 2014 next month (April 11 – 26), here’s a clip from Mille Soleils, embedded below. Definitely a film you should see if you’re in New York.
Watch the quiet though visually rich tease below: