News from the Locarno Festival

Souleymane Cissé at Locarno

Souleymane Cissé at Locarno


© Les Films Cissé


The heart of great African cinema is beating strong in Locarno this year, with Open Doors putting francophone sub-Saharan cinema firmly in the frame. And as further confirmation, we are delighted to announce that one of the great standard-bearers of African film, the Malian director Souleymane Cissé, will enhance the already stellar line-up of filmmakers for this 65th edition of the Festival.

A director, screenwriter and producer, but above all a charismatic and committed figure of world stature who is now also the president of UCECAO, the Union of Creators and Entrepreneurs of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts of Western Africa.

His filmography is studded with international awards. From the early successes - two major prizes at Fespaco (Baara in 1979, Finyé  in 1983) to Yeelen his most well-known masterpiece that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival in 1987. An epic drama about the Bambara, Mali’s largest ethnic group, the film interweaves mythological legends with a fictional narrative and will be shown as part of the Open Doors Screening programme on Wednesday August 1 at 14.00 (L’altra Sala).

Souleymane Cissé’s attendance completes the range of major figures from African cinema who have confirmed their presence at Locarno. From the Burkino Faso filmmaker Idrissa Ouédraogo, whose Nonna (Yaaba) screened on the Piazza Grande in 1989 to Gaston Kaboré, winner of the César for Best Francophone Film in 1983 for Il dono di Dio (Wend Kuuni).

Other participants in Open Doors 2012 include filmmakers of the calibre of Cheick Oumar Sissoko (director of Guimba, selected for Locarno in1995) from Mali, Abderrahmane Sissako (director of  Bamako, selected for Cannes in 2006), from Mauritania and the Congolese director Djo Munga (Viva Riva!, 2010, selected for Toronto and Berlin).

A wide-ranging and impressive delegation, gathered here to testify to the vitality of the cinematic crucible that is sub-Saharan Africa which does not always receive the visibility it deserves.

Lorenzo Buccella

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