Scen.: Djibril Diop Mambéty. F.: Jacques Besse. M.: Sarah Taouss-Matton. Mus.: Wasis Diop. Int.: Lissa Baléra (Sili Laam), Moussa Baldé the boy on the wheelchair), Dieynaba Laam (the grandmother), Tairou M’Baye (Babou Seck), Oumou Samb (the mad woman). Prod.: Silvia Voser per Waka Films, Cephéide Productions, Maag Daan. DCP. D.: 45’. Col.
Cinema was born in Africa, because the image itself was born in Africa. The instruments, yes, are European, but the creative necessity and rationale exist in our oral tradition. As I always tell the children, in order to make a film, you must only close your eyes and see the images. Open your eyes, and the film is there. I want these children to understand that Africa is a land of images, not only because images of African masks revolutionized art throughout the world but as a result, simply and paradoxically, of oral tradition. Oral tradition is a tradition of images. What is said is stronger than what is written; the word addresses itself to the imagination, not the ear. Imagination creates the image and the image creates cinema, so we are in direct lineage as cinema’s parents.
Nwachucwu Frank Ukadike, Conversation with Djibril Diop Mambéty, “Transition 78”, n. 2, 1999
La Petite vendeuse de soleil is the second part of a trilogy Djibril Diop Mambéty had intended as a celebration of the “little people” in the grips of a global economy, which, in his words, had “gone mad”. The film was shot in the last year of a long and debilitating illness, with little or no funding, and it was still on the editing tables when he died, on July 23, 1998. It was completed and placed on the distribution circuit for African films by a group of his longtime collaborators, including his musician brother, Wasis Diop [and producer Silvia Voser]. Yet, La Petite vendeuse is a film teeming with life, extending to its audiences a bounty of love, showing affection for the blind, the paraplegic and the disabled in general. It features actors ravaged by alcohol abuse, and even corrupt police officers portrayed in a sympathetic light. In fact, in this last creative gesture of his life, Djibril Diop Mambéty reasserts the dominant features of Senegalese filmmaking of the 1990s and choreographs two of the most pervasive topics in his films: the fate of street children in the city, and the value of musical experiences of all kinds.
Sada Niang, Histoires de petites gens: La petite vendeuse de soleil, “African Studies Review”, n. 1, April 2001