Cinema Lumiere - Sala Scorsese > 21:45



Saturday 29/06/2019


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

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

Cast and Credits

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.


Film Notes

After Hyènes (1992), an immense and exhausting adventure that took seven years of his life, Mambéty returned to telling stories about contemporary urban Africa in a smaller format with the series Histoires de petites gens. The project included three medium-length films that together would form a feature film, one film being shot per year: Le Franc in 1994, La Petite vendeuse de soleil in 1995, to celebrate the centenary of cinema, and L’Apprenti voleur in 1996. Unfortunately, Mambéty only completed up to the first cut of La Petite vendeuse de soleil, which Silvia Voser finished in 1999, a year after his death […].
In “a time of uncertainty” – quoting the radio announcement inviting people impoverished by the CFA franc’s devaluation to try their luck playing the lottery – Mambéty went beyond mere observation and elevated his anarchic and rebellious vision by creating the anti-social character of Marigo. With his easy-going walk and Chaplinesque clothes, Marigo immediately expresses his irreverent nature: he spits on the floor of his shack and blows his nose on a towel like an unruly teenager. His comic nature turns into an art like in Chaplin’s silent films, almost without words. Marigo speaks through facial expressions, and he does not give in to the bad luck that seems to chase him. Like Chaplin, there is always a glimpse of optimism: the strength of Mambéty’s characters lies in their dignity, courage and rejection of fatalism and resignation. They are parables of hope in contrast with Afro-pessimism, the lack of faith in the continent’s capability to develop, which was emerging at that same time.

Alessandra Speciale, Djibril Diop Mambéty o Il viaggio della Iena, L’Harmattan Italia, Torino 2019

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Djibril Diop Mambéty. F.: Stéphan Oriach. M.: Stéphan Oriach. Mus.: Issa Cissokho, Dieye Ma, Moussa N’Diaye. Int.: Dieye Ma (Marigo), Aminata Fall (the tenant), Demba Bâ (the dwarf). Prod.: Silvia Voser per Waka Films, Scolopendra Productions, Maag Daan. DCP. D.: 45’. Col.