Djibril Diop Mambety 1945-1998



Film Clips


Djibril Diop Mambety Filmography
1970 BADOU BOY 60 Min, 16 mm, Color
1973 TOUKI BOUKI 110 Min, 35 mm, Color
1989 PARLONS GRAND-MERE 34 Min, 16 mm, Documentary
1992 HYENES 110 Min, 35 mm, Color
1994 LE FRANC 45 Min, 35 mm

Djibril Diop Mambety's Films are available from Facets Multimedia

Badou Boy
A film that anticipates the director's fanciful 1973 film Touki-Bouki, Badou Boy is an acerbically humorous portrait of Dakar, Senegal's capital. Dramatizing the inevitable clash of the iconoclast and the powers that be, the film takes the viewer on a wild chase through the streets of Dakar. Badou Boy, who usually spends his time loitering on city buses, is forced to outrun an overweight policeman nicknamed 'The Black Dragon.' As in his other films, Mambety uses a Swarm of colorful characters and improbable situations to create a vibrant romp in the big city. Known for his bold eccentricity, Mambety admits, 'Badou Boy is a slightly amoral street urchin who resembles me a lot."

Touki Bouki
Made in 1973, Touki Bouki is an interesting example of the 'hybridization,' the mixing, of Western cinema and African story telling traditions. On the one hand, Mambety has been influenced by European film technique and technology. The 'continental non-linearity,' so to speak, and the stylistic self-consciousness of the film are reminiscent of 1960s European cinema. On the other, Mambety has transformed these into an African style and story. Some would argue he has been influenced as much by oral tradition as by cinematic conventions. He begins with Africa, then takes what he needs from Europe, and returns to Africa.

Note carefully the style of the film. It might seem disorderly and confusing at first, especially in comparison to the usual linearity of Hollywood films and American TV. But Mambety is trying to do something expressive--to tell his story--with every image, sound, cut, collage, and juxtaposition in the film. It does hang together. Mambety is using a non-linear technique to tell a rather straightforward story.

Mory and Anta, two young Senegalese, are living a life of boredom and poverty. They have little or no connection with the older generations or their community. (She is a student! He was a cattle herder.) They decide to go to Paris ("Paris, Paris, Paris"), a fantasy-land where all will be made well and where they'll enjoy the luxuries of French (or Western) living. They try several schemes to obtain money. They succeed, finally, by stealing clothes from Charlie and money from one of his guests. They book passage to France. But Mory, at the last moment, cannot bear to go, and he runs (runs and runs) in a kind of panic to recover his motorcycle and the ox's skull and horns which connect him (as well as suggest how disconnected he is) to Senegal and its pastoral traditions. Anta is left on board the ship.

This film, Mambety's third and like his others, is about money, corruption, misguided Africans, cultural alienation, European disdain and exploitation of Africa, neo-colonialism, and so on. It's also about style, film making, creating an African cinema.

Mambety portrays a Senegalese society which is sharply divided by class and wealth. The masses of people live in poverty far from the modern, economic center in the city, far from the pomp of official government ceremony. It is a society still dependent on the French for its images of success and its values. It is rapidly losing its traditional roots and (so far) not replacing that with anything indigenous. It is a society in decline; it has been debased (in Mambety's view); it is neo-colonial in its structures and values.

Hyenas(Ramatou) see Real Video clip

As a beautiful young woman living in Colobane (the village in which the film is set), Linguère Ramatou fell in love with Dramaan Drameh. She became pregnant. He denied paternity. He bribed two men to say they had slept with her. She was driven from the village in disgrace. Dramaan married a wealthy wife and prospered. That was years before the time of the events portrayed in the film.

Ramatou has become miraculously wealthy--the richest woman in the world--rich as "the World Bank." She returns to the village seeking justice and revenge. Since she left, the village (and Africa itself) has become impoverished and corrupt. Dramaan "runs a dilapidated bar/general store . . . where the corrupt and indolent townsfolk drown their ennui in cheap wine."

Ramatou offers the village "a trillion dollars"--if they will kill Dramaan--the man who betrayed and destroyed her. She says, "The world made a whore of me. I want to turn the world into a whorehouse." The villagers express outrage at first but then are "easily seduced by air conditioners, refrigerators, and television sets." The action of the film focuses mainly on the change--the seduction and the yielding of Colobane--or if you prefer, the final decay, degeneration, and corruption of the village. In the end, the people, the mayor, the priest, and the professor all join together in the name of the consumer society to "kill" Dramaan. (Quotations, except for Ramatou, from California Newsreel.)

This is a "hybrid" film. That is, Mambety has mixed European film technique, a Swiss play , and an African voice and perspective to create a distinctly African film. Mambety believes that African film makers can "reinvent" cinema. They can (and should?), in other words, create a distinct voice and vision. But at the same time, they should push African film toward international significance. Mambety certainly attempts that in both Touki-Bouki and Hyenas.

Hyenas is an adaptation of The Visit by Friedrich Dürrenmatt. (You needn't know the play to understand the issues.) Mambety intendsthe film as homage to "the great Friedrich." It follows the plot of the play closely. But Mambety has transformed that plot through location, image, symbolism, story, and theme. Hyenas is not simply The Visit in African costume--The Visit in-the-bush, so to speak.

The animal imagery and symbolism provides one obvious example. The powerful sense of place, another. In a 1993 interview, Mambety explains his sense of the animal images--hyena, elephant, lion, bird. Those images and meanings, sustained through the film by continual cutting from people and the narrative to the animals, distinguish the film aesthetically and thematically from its source.

Other--sometimes strange, even surreal--images and techniques reveal an aesthetic quite distinct from Western and Hollywood films and even from other African films. For example: the cutting from people to animals, the old man (perhaps a griot?) who wanders through the film, the dress of the townspeople in the judgment scene, the Japanese woman in uniform with handcuffs and a CB radio (?) who reads "The International Herald Tribune," the character, Gaana, whom Mambety himself plays, the bizarre representation of Colobane as an amusement park, the closing images of bulldozer, city, dozer tracks in the sand, and the Baobab tree.

Like many other African films, Hyenas expresses strong political, cultural, and moral themes. Note especially the men present , after all the other villagers leave, after the killing of Dramaan. The mayor, the priest, and the professor--government, religion, and education, the major social institutions--approve and lead the village in its action.



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