Souleymane Cissé, Mali

One of Africa's leading directors, Souleymane Cissé has crafted a body of films that combine visual elegance with Marxist ideology and allegorical storytelling.

Born in 1940 and a passionate cinephile from childhood, Cissé began his film career as a projectionist and photographer in Mali. After studying cinema in the Soviet Union for seven years, he returned to Mali, where he cut his teeth making newsreels and documentaries. His first fiction film, Cinq Jours d'une Vie (Five Days in a Life, 1972), launched his career and gained critical attention for the burgeoning African film movement.

Three years later, Cissé directed the first feature film in his native language of Bambara, Den Muso (The Girl), about a young mute girl who is raped and rejected by her family when she becomes pregnant. Its controversial subject matter caused the film to be banned by the Malian Minister of Culture. In 1978, Cissé produced Baara (Work), which received the Grand Prize, the Etalon de Yennega, at the FESPACO film festival in 1979. Finye (The Wind) won him another Etalon in 1983. Cissé's masterpiece, Yeelen (1987) is widely regarded as one of the best African films ever made.

Drawing on traditional indigenous lifestyles and Malian folklore, Cissé masterfully explores conflicts in Malian society, particularly the conflicts that emerge between the desire for change and the need to preserve tradition.

We are delighted and honoured to welcome Souleymane Cissé to Africa in Motion 2008. We will screen three of his films on Sun 26 Oct as a retrospective of his work - Baara, Finye and Yeelen.

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