Focus Features Africa First Alum Dyana Gaye's Feature Debut ("Des Etoiles") Short-Listed For Cannes L'Atelier

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by Tambay A. Obenson
March 19, 2012 12:53 PM
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Dyana Gaye

A project I've been tracking since it first showed up on my radar last fall... a brief catch-up...

French/Senegalese director Dyana Gaye, whose short film, the vibrant, unorthodox musical Saint Louis Blues, was one of 5 projects selected, financed and produced under the Focus Features Africa First program (she was part of the very first class, announced in 2008), will be making her feature film directorial debut with a project titled Des Etoiles (or, in English, Stars).

As noted in that first post several months ago, the project was one of 22 selected for the annual Co-production Village, which ran from December 11-13, 2011 at the 3rd Les Arcs European Film Festival.

And earlier this year, it was announced as one of 5 debut feature film projects selected at the last 2011 session of the second advance on receipts committee of the National Film and Moving Image Centre (CNC).

The beat goes on for the project as it continues to attract international attention and financing, as late last week, it was one of 15 projects selected for the upcoming Cannes L’Atelier - an initiative which runs during the Cannes Film Festival aimed at finding financing for projects by upcoming directors that are in an advanced state of development.

In short, Dyana's upcoming film, as it was in previous co-production markets, will be presented in front of international partners with the intent to attract resources in key phases: financing, production, and distribution.

I'm not sure how much money she's raised for the project thus far, or what her total budget is, but I'm glad to see that the project short-listed for several production/financing opportunities. It speaks well for it, and is a very good look.

Des Etoiles' synopsis reads:

Sophie arrives in Italy where she is supposed to join her husband who she never ends up finding. Mame Amy, an American resident for 25 years, returns to Senegal to attend her husband’s funeral. [The film centers on] the crossed trajectories of two generations of Senegalese women who glow in spite of the obstacles they face in their lives as migrants.

A little about Dyana Gaye... she was born in Paris in 1975. She majored in Film Studies at Paris 8 - St Denis University in 1998. In 1999, she won the Louis Lumiere-Villa Medicis grant for her script A Woman For Souleymane which she directed the following year. She was a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative in 2004; she directed a musical one shot sequence film, Remembering Paris, for the project Paris, La Metisse in 2005. In 2006, her short film Ousmane received numerous distinctions all over the world and was nominated at the Cesar 2008 (French Academy Awards) for Best Short Film.

Again, Des Etoiles will be her feature film debut, and it looks like Dyana is very well on her way to seeing it to fruition.

I'll be looking for it sometime in late 2012/2013.

In the meantime, be sure to check out her Focus Features Africa First short film Saint Louis Blues, which is now available on DVD (the compilation disk of all 5 shorts from the first class), or digital download via iTunes.

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