Souleymane Cissé

Scen.: Souleymane Cissé. F.: Étienne Carton de Grammont, Abdoulaye Sidibé. M.: Andrée Davanture. Mus.: Lamine Konté. Int.: Balla Moussa Keïta (Makan Sissoko), Baba Niare (the porter Balla Diarra), Boubacar Keïta (the engineer Balla Traoré), Oumou Diarra (the engineer’s wife), Ismaïla Sarr (the doyen of the workers), Oumou Koné (Djénéba), Fanta Diabaté, Ibrahim Traoré. Prod.: Les Films Cissé
35mm. D.: 91’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The point, I believe, is that this film offers a sketch for a description of the problems of a working-class in the making. I felt at the time that it was important to address an issue so central to our country’s future. How would the problems of poor farmers relate to those of this proletariat-to-be? The issue of how working people might be integrated into our country’s development process seemed more than worthy of attention.
To me, the engineer is not really the central character, though his part is very significant, because he is steeped in political awareness. The central character is the porter. They belong to the same generation, but one was lucky enough to have received an education, while the other did not. Yet they have much in common, which is why I gave them the same name. The gap between intellectuals and the mass of working people is not in our country very wide. […] I wrote this screenplay in jail, during the Den Muso affair.

Souleymane Cissé, “Jeune cinema”, n. 115, 1978

Baara introduces a critical view of trade unionism never before explored in African cinema, in the same way that Finye offers insight into Africa’s military regimes. Made with the help of France’s Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, Baara conducts a film foray into Bamako, cinematically examining daily life, with exquisite attention to detail. […] The various elements operating in the film are unified by the narrative strategy employed – specifically related to the Marxist notion of history as essentially collective. For example, while Baara does not discard the sense of individual identity, it expresses the congeniality of a collective force. The latter is the larger perspective the film aspires to, and even when motivations and responses are examined through individual characters, this collective endeavor is never sacrificed.

Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Black African Cinema, University of California Press, Berkeley 1994

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