Black female director's film debut a first in Cannes' 72-year history

Director Mati Diop's 'Atlantiques' is tipped to be one of the festival's most-talked about movies

17 May 2019 - 11:43
Director Mati Diop (second from right) and her cast at the screening of her film 'Atlantiques' during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16 2019 in Cannes, France.
Director Mati Diop (second from right) and her cast at the screening of her film 'Atlantiques' during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16 2019 in Cannes, France.
Image: Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

While much has been made of the number of female directors represented in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France, there are only two filmmakers of African descent represented in the main competition, but for one of them this is indeed a historic moment.

Mati Diop, niece of legendary Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, is the first black woman to have a film in competition at the festival in its 72-year history.

Diop’s film Atlantiques — the story of a young woman from Dakar thrown into the hard-hitting realities of the refugee crisis following the disappearance of her lover — was co-written by the director with Olivier Demangel and stars local Wolof speaking Senegalese actors. 

WATCH | A clip from Mati Diop's film 'Atlantiques’

Together with Malian filmmaker Ladj Ly, whose film Les Miserables is also in competition, Diop’s labour of love is expected to be one of the festival’s breakout and most talked-about films. 

Diop, who has previously directed a short film, has described her feature film debut in a statement as retelling “the legend of the bird that rises from the ashes … Here the phoenix is a young woman. After devoting a short film to the men who leave by sea, my current interest is in the women who stay behind, the ones who wait for a brother, a lover, a son to come back.”

The Cannes Film Festival is currently underway and ends on May 25.

This article was originally published on the S Mag section of the SowetanLIVE website. Read the original article here.


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