First Footage From Mati Diop's 'Mille Soleils' ('A Thousand Suns') + An Analysis

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 11, 2013 11:07 AM
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Djibril Diop Mambéty's "Touki Bouki" (1973).
Mati Diop's next film, Mille soleils (A Thousand Suns), is making its LA premiere at the Caméras d’Afrique: The Films of West Africa - a month-long, 21-film series by Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television, in partnership with Film Independent at Elvis Mitchell-curated LACMA, running from October 3 – October 28, 2013
. 

The 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 two main actors, 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's a film (and I could name several others) that really deserves a proper restoration and re-release in HD, preserving but also reintroducing it to new generations, and those who are just not aware of it.

At the moment, you can find it on DVD, and VHS, although it's still not readily accessible.  

The African Women In Cinema blog has 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:

"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?

Again, you can read the analysis in full HERE.

No trailer for Mille Soleils yet, but the folks are the African Film Festival of Cordoba, where the film is screening next, have released a clip from it, which is embedded below. Definitely a film you should see if you're in LA (for Caméras d’Afrique), or in Córdoba, Spain (for FCAT).

Watch the quiet though visually rich tease below:

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