African cinema makes its way onto the Croisette

By Le Figaro with AFP



Franco-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy in Cannes surrounded by her two actors, Khady Mane and Mamadou Diallo for the film Banel and Adama. Patricia DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

Two African directors are in the running for the Palme d’Or, which has not distinguished an African film for almost 50 years.

With two films in competition, a handful of others scattered in the parallel selections and two members of the jury from the continent, Africa has never been so present at Cannes. A ” artistic emulation carried by a new generation of filmmakers. A second palme d’or for this continent usually under-represented in Cannes and in the other festivals of 7e art ? ” The competition is very, very tough “, told AFP the youngest of the competition, Ramata-Toulaye Sy, without risking further comments.

Born in France – where she grew up – to Senegalese parents, she delivered a first feature film imbued with lyricism at Cannes on the emancipation of a Fulani woman. The other director from the continent in the running for the prize is the Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania, revealed to the general public thanks to her thriller on a victim of a Beauty and the Packpresented at Cannes in 2017. Both can succeed the Algerian Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, palme d’or in 1975 with Chronicle of the Ember Years. He is to date the only African filmmaker to have received the supreme distinction on the Croisette.

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Movies with universal reach »

Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon, Sudan… Films from Africa are in full light. ” We are facing the arrival of a new generation, better trained and who have things to say “, emphasizes to AFP Kaouther Ben Hania. ” There is a real artistic emulation “, completes the Moroccan Kamal Lazraq. packs, his first feature film which follows the crazy night during which a father and his son try to get rid of a man’s body, was presented in the Official Selection, in the Un certain regard category. Last year, her compatriot Maryam Touzani – member of the jury this year – delivered a sumptuous feature film on the taboo of ity in the Cherifian kingdom. A film that had been presented in the same section.

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To the Fortnight of filmmakersanother parallel section of the Festival, the film deserts by Faouzi Bensaïdi, a sort of contemplative western filmed in the Rif, left no one indifferent. ” Morocco has been doing a real job of supporting film production for years “says Kamal Lazraq. Same tone with Ramata-Toulaye Sy, who praised the Senegalese government’s support for his film. For others, financial and logistical support is not always there, as Kaouther Ben Hania publicly said in 2021.

Can we speak of a breakthrough in African cinema? No, replies the Malian filmmaker (Carrosse d’or this year) Souleymane Cisse. ” African films have always existed but have never been highlighted “, he argues. ” African production is rich and varied, it is time to take an interest in it “, he continues, denouncing the “ contempt of Westerners. ” It’s up to distributors to get African films “, abounds Ramata-Toulaye Sy, who teaches cinema in Dakar. ” They have always been there, in front of us “, she ures.

All the filmmakers contacted by AFP say they share the same ambition: to make films rooted in Africa but universal scope “. Still, the path is often strewn with pitfalls: In our region, the culture disturbs “says the Sudanese Mohamed Kordofani, for whom the shooting of his first feature film Goodbye Julia (presented in the Official Selection) was “ very complicated. Filming in an unstable country, where there are demonstrations and riots, is not easy. We are quickly overtaken by the reality of our countries. »

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