SENEGAL-FRANCE-CINEMA-PROFILE / Director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a women’s rights activist on the steps of the Cannes Film Festival

SENEGAL-FRANCE-CINEMA-PROFILE / Director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a women's rights activist on the steps of the Cannes Film Festival
SENEGAL-FRANCE-CINEMA-PROFILE / Director Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a women's rights activist on the steps of the Cannes Film Festival

Africa-Press – Senegal. Franco-Senegalese Ramata-Toulaye Sy, whose film “Banel and Adama” is in the running for the Palme d’Or at the 76th edition of the Cannes International Film Festival, in France (from May 16 to 27), is a director committed to women’s rights both in the co-written screenplays and in the two films of which she is the director.

Ramata-Toulaye Sy, 36, will climb the steps of the Grand Théâtre Lumière on Saturday from 3 p.m. (French time) for the screening of his film “Banel and Adama”.

On the films in which she intervened as co-screenwriter or director, she had declared in many interviews that the projects which speak of women and the conditions of contemporary women were very close to her heart.

First there is “Sibel”, a Turkish feature film by Çagla Zencirci and Guillaume Giovanetti produced in 2018 and which tells the life of Sibel, a young mute Turkish woman who uses the language of the whistle to communicate. Abused and beaten, she still tries to live.

The feature film “Notre Dame du Nil”, where Ramata-Toulaye Sy is co-screenwriter, gives the floor to young Rwandan girls of the 1970s and deals with the beginnings of the genocide that occurred in this country in 1994.

This film, directed in 2019 by the Franco-Afghan novelist and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi, is a film adaptation of the eponymous novel by the Franco-Rwandan Scholastique Mukasonga, whose book won the Renaudot Prize in 2012.

“(…) what really appealed to me in this project, is to tell this historical episode from a very different point of view from what we are used to seeing. This time, we give the floor to young girls. Brilliant and intelligent but also innocent young African girls. I really liked the feminist angle of the film and that’s what, in my opinion, is the strength of this story, “said the Franco-Senegalese screenwriter, interviewed by the site of the” Culture and Diversity Foundation “. ‘.

The two films she directed, including the short film “Astel”, her first short film, which won multiple awards around the world with a bronze Tanit during the last Carthage Film Days in Tunisia, in 2022, and the last “Banel and Adama”, which earned her this selection in the official competition of the Cannes festival, also deal with the status of women in society.

“Astel” tells the life of a young Fulani girl attached to her father and who will be forced to leave him to join her place among women, deals with femininity and patriarchy. “Banel and Adama”, in the running for the Palme d’Or, also features a woman, Banel, in an impossible love story whose action takes place in Fouta, a traditional land in northern Senegal.

According to the general delegate of the Cannes festival, Thierry Frémaux, this film “is on the edge of experimentation” and “offers a completely strong and singular cinema […]”. On the three excerpts viewed on the festival site, poetic images are shown with these wide shots on stretches of land in Fouta in northern Senegal where women are clearing a field.

A career as a screenwriter and then as a director

Ramata-Toulaye Sy started out as a screenwriter, from which she graduated in 2015, after passing the competition, in 2011, for the European Foundation for Image and Sound Professions (Femis), which called the Institute for Higher Cinematographic Studies, from 1943 to 1986 (IDHEC).

Many Senegalese filmmakers like Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, Pape Badara Seck, Angèle Dianbang or even Moly Kane attended this French establishment.

The representative of Senegal at the 76th Cannes Film Festival first followed a Master 1 in Performing Arts, specialty “Cinema and Audiovisual”, at the University of Paris Nanterre and a Master 2, specialty “Scenario”, at Free Conservatory of French Cinema, before landing at La Fémis, where she followed the “Equality of Opportunity Workshops” in 2009-2010.

The one who likes to work in a team and adores literature, was inspired by writers such as the American Toni Morrison (1931-2019), or her compatriot Maya Angelou (1928-2014), the first African-American to have her effigy on a coin.

Ramata-Toulaye Sy also adores the writings of the Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is one of the women who inspires her. She says she is also inspired by the Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety in the staging.

In the footsteps of Franco-Senegalese Mati Diop

“She is the second young Senegalese filmmaker after Mati Diop in 2019”, announced the general delegate of the Cannes Film Festival, Thierry Frémaux when the official selection was revealed on April 13.

The director Mati Diop, the first black director selected in the official competition of the Cannes festival with her film “Atlantic”, was crowned winner of the Grand Jury Prize of the said festival. A first which was repeated four years later with the Franco-Senegalese Ramata-Toulaye Sy, whose film “Banel and Adama”, is in the running for the Palme d’or alongside the famous British filmmaker Ken Loach in “The old oak”.

Of the eighteen films retained in the official selection of Cannes, this year, six are signed by female directors, including two women, Africans Ramata-Toulaye Sy and Kaouther Ben Hania from Tunisia with her film “Les filles d’Olfa” , which will be screened Friday on the Croisette.

Pour plus d’informations et d’analyses sur la Senegal, suivez Africa-Press


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