On the Croisette, a new African wave
With two films in competition, other films scattered across parallel selections and two jury members from the continent, Africa has never been more present at Cannes. An “artistic imitation” by a new generation of filmmakers.
A second Palme d’Or for this continent usually under-represented at Cannes and other 7th arts festivals? “The competition is very, very tough,” Ramata-Toule Si, the youngest in the competition, told AFP without risking further comment.
Born in France – where she grew up – to Senegalese parents, she delivered a lyrical feature film debut about the liberation of a Fulani woman at Cannes.
The other director from the continent in the running for the Palme is Tunisian Kouther Ben Hania, who wowed the general public thanks to his thriller on a rape victim, “La belle et la meute,” presented at Cannes in 2017.
Both could replace Algerian Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, the Palme d’Or in 1975 with “Chronicle of the Amber Years”. He is the only African filmmaker ever to receive the highest honor on the Croisette.
– “not highlighted” –
Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon, Sudan… Africa’s films are in full light.
“We are facing the arrival of a new generation, better trained and who have something to say,” Kouthar Ben Haniya told AFP. “There is a real artistic imitation”, concludes the Moroccan Kamal Lazark.
“Les Meuts”, his first feature film, which follows a crazy night during which a father and his son try to get rid of a man’s body, was presented in the Uncertain Relationship category in the Official Selection.
Last year, her compatriot Maryam Touzani – a member of the jury this year – delivered a stunning feature film on the taboo of homosexuality in the Cherivian kingdom. A film that was presented in the same category.
In the Quinzine des Cinéastes, another parallel section of the festival, the film “Deserts” by Fouji Bensadi, a kind of contemplative western shot in the riff, did not leave anyone indifferent.
“Morocco has been doing a real job of supporting film production for years,” says Kamal Lajrak. Same tone with Ramata-Toulay Si, who praised the Senegalese government’s support for her film.
For others, financial and logistical support is not always there, as Kouthar Ben Haniya publicly stated in 2021.
Can we talk about success in African cinema? No, answers Malian filmmaker (Carros d’Or this year) Souleymane Cisse to AFP. “African films have always existed, but they have never been highlighted”, he said.
“African production is rich and varied, it is time to take an interest in it”, he continues, condemning the “contempt” of Westerners. “It’s up to the distributors to get African films,” says Ramata-Toule Si, who teaches cinema in Dakar. “They’ve always been there, before us,” she says.
All the filmmakers contacted by AFP say they share the same ambition: to make films anchored in Africa but with a “universal reach”.
Nevertheless, the path is often fraught with pitfalls: “In our region, the culture is troubling,” says Sudanese Mohamed Kordofani, for whom shooting his first feature film “Goodbye Julia” (presented in the official selection) was “too complicated. ” Was .
“Shooting in an unstable country, where there are demonstrations and riots, is not easy. We quickly get caught up in the reality of our countries.”