Scen.: Safi Faye. F.: Patrick Fabry, Jean Monod, Papa Mictar Ndoye. M.: Andrée Davanture, Marie-Christine Rougerie, Dominique Smadja, Babacar Diagne. Int.: Ibou Ndong e gli abitanti del villaggio di Fad’jal. Prod.: Ministero Relazioni Esterne (Francia), Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA), Safi Films. DCP. D.: 112’. Col.
I graduated from the great university of the Spoken Word taught in the shade of baobab trees.
Amadou Hampâté Bâ
The film is called Fad’jal. “Fad” means “arrive” and “jal” means “work”. Work because when you arrive at this farming village called Fad’jal, you must work. When you work, you’re happy, and if you don’t work, people will mock you.
I also place my two cultures, French and Senegalese, into juxtaposition with each other. Whereas the written history of France is learned in school, how can African history be transmitted if it only exists through oral tradition? Who’s going to pass it on to the children? The village elder, he who holds the memory of history. Every evening, the children scrambled up into the beautiful kapok trees after getting out of school to gather around the village elder. He would then pass on their history, that which hasn’t been written down.
Fad’jal speaks of this, of the foundation of the village and all the events that have since unfolded there. The grandfather speaks of traditional rites of passage and agrarian rites, as well as the origin of this village founded by a woman (Mbang Fadial) around the 16th century.
I never make films that have been adapted; I write my own screenplays. I investigate, inquire, and then I write, and I try to remain faithful to the rural world that I come from, as well as to Africa and the villagers. I admire people who live off the land. In Serer country, the coastal people to which I belong (as does Léopold Sédar Senghor) are renowned for the energy they put into their work. The people live within a matriarchal society in which women have more importance than men. Men and women are free thanks to the fruits of their labour.
The rural world, the theme that I chose and which corresponds to my cinematic vision, is timeless. It concerns all rural farmers, whether they are Japanese, Senegalese or Singaporean, since we’ve all been rural farmers at one time; the entire world comes from the countryside. I glorify the hard work rural farmers do to achieve food self-sufficiency.