For this week’s spotlight, we’ll be taking a look at Abderrahmane Sissako. This “indie”-vidual’s name is a little bit of a tongue twister, but be sure not to forget it because he is currently one of the most prominent African filmmakers of our time.
Sissako was born in Mauritania but moved to Mali as a teenager. He briefly moved back to Mauritania before being given a scholarship to study film at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow, Russia. As of the early 1990s, he is settled in France.
With the themes of identity, displacement and the effects of colonialism on contemporary Africa, Sissako provides a brave voice to disenfranchised Africans. In fact, most of his work are filmed or set in Africa – notably in his home countries of Mali and Mauritania.
His career began with his graduation short film, THE GAME (1989). Although it was poorly received by his school’s jury, the film eventually went on to receive a lot of critical acclaim. His sophomore short film, OCTOBER (1993), was a big hit. The film won the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival. With the film BAMAKO (2006), he became the very first recipient of the Film Award of the Council of Europe at the Istanbul International Film Festival. His recent and most critically acclaimed film, TIMBUKTU (2014), won the César Award for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Due to his filmmaking prowess, he served as a jury member during the 53rd Cannes International Film Festival and then jury president during the 56th and 68th editions of the festival. Similarly, he was a jury member at the 36th Moscow International Film Festival and jury president of the feature films section for the 19th Premiers Plans Festival in Angers.
With such a respectable film career, Abderrahmane Sissako is one of the most revered and inspiring figures in African films. He is sure to astound us all in future years.