Souleymane Cisse

Filmmaker (Mali)

| Utne Reader September / October 2007

Drawing on indigenous lifestyles and folklore, Cisse explores conflicts in Malian society through films that combine visual elegance with Marxist ideology and allegorical story-telling. His best-known film is Yeelen ('Brightness'), a Jury Prize winner at Cannes in 1987. Cisse began his career as a projectionist and photographer in Mali. After studying cinema in the Soviet Union, he returned to Mali, where he made newsreels and documentaries. His first fiction film, Cinq jours d'une vie ('Five Days in a Life,' 1972), launched his career and gained attention for the burgeoning African film movement. In 1975 Cisse directed The Girl, the first feature film in his native language, Bambara, only to see the film banned.

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