By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 5, 2013 at 6:15PM
In addition to Shola Lynch's Free Angela And All Political Prisoners, it's one of 3 films on my to-see list this weekend, since I missed the press screenings for them here in NYC.
It's called Simon Killer, a mystery/suspense/drama directed by Antonio Campos that centers on a recent American college graduate who travels to France, where he becomes involved with a prostitute.
A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of five years. His life should be open-ended and full of promise, but he can’t shake his feelings of loss. Being a stranger in a strange land only aggravates his situation. When he falls in love with a young mysterious prostitute, a fateful journey begins. Though we soon learn that Simon is the one with deeper secrets.
My main attracting to the film is co-writer as well as co-star Mati Diop, the niece of the late great Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty (a name that's come up a few times on S&A; he directed African cinema classics like Touki Bouki and Hyènes).
As Courtney noted when we first profiled Mati and the film last November, she was attracting a lot of attention, especially from cinephiles everywhere with her work in Simon Killer, as writer and co-star, for which she picked up the AFI FEST 2012 Special Mention For Performance nod (both for writing and acting).
Prior to Simon Killer, she starred alongside revered french actor Alex Descas in celebrated French auteur Claire Denis' acclaimed drama 35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum) - a film that S&A covered a lot on the old S&A site, when it was in release in 2009. She picked up some awards for her performance in that film as well
So we could say that, in addition to coming from a lineage of some of the best in cinema, she's been working with some of the best talents in cinema, which is great for her.
And on top of her abilities as an actress and writer, she's also a director. At 30 years old, she's been making films since she was 22, when she directed her first film, a short titled, Last Night; another short film she helmed, Atlantiques, was screened at the IFFR in 2010 in the Tiger Awards Competition Short Films section.
Her films most recently screened in the Experimenta strand of the 56th BFI London Film Festival, last fall.
But she's rooted in a tremendously gifted family background. I'd guess that frequent questions and comparisons to her late great uncle's work are common.
It could be a lot of pressure to carry around.
In Simon Killer, Brady Corbet stars as Simon, the college graduate who travels to France; and Mati Diop plays the Parisian prostitute whose life he gets involved with, and where this journey, described by many reviews collectively as an entrancing, bold and provocative cinematic character study, begins.
The consensus seems to be that this is a film that will introduce her to American audiences, which could mean Hollywood may come calling, which could further mean that we'll see more of her work, whether as actress, writer or director.
IFC Films picked it up last fall, and is finally releasing it in theaters today, April 5th. Unfortunately, it's only playing in NYC, at IFC Center. Although I'm sure it'll gradually travel to other major markets, depending on how it does here. I plan to check it out this weekend.
Trailer and poster below: