Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Who is Souleymane Cissé ?

Souleymane Cisse, Malian filmmaker born in 1940, plays a major role in the recognition of African cinema on the international stage.

“We must create our own markets and be able to rely on a local audience.”

Faithful to the Forum d’Avignon since its origin, Souleymane Cisse participated in the 2010 edition “More accessibility, new usage in digital era: Culture for everyone?”. New technologies clearly favour the access to culture. But he argued that they cannot answer to the question about creativity, about the talent and the ability to amaze young people, who will be the future filmmakers. If he admits that the support of Europe is essential to the African cinema that can find here opportunities, for him it is not enough: Africa must build its own market and have movie theaters. We don’t have to be amazed by the digital promises if we can’t give our creators real resources. “Africa needs talents, and talents who can express”, otherwise “the risk is that the African cinema simply disappears.” From his point of view, digital evolution is both a chance and a risk: because it enables to produce and distribute the works easily; and because shooting with digital technologies on the morning can mean being pirated the same evening. Souleymane Cissé shared with us at the Forum d’Avignon its own experience and disappointments: when he was making his first movie in digital, illegal copies were already circulating before the release.

From an early age, Souleymane Cissé got interested in cinema. After high school in Dakar, he came back to Mali in 1960. That’s when he saw a documentary on Lumumba’s arrest that the revelation occurred: he will be a filmmaker. After receiving a grant, he moved to Moscow where he was a projectionist and then a filmmaker. His first move Den Muse (The Girl) was banned in Mali and Souleymane Cissé was imprisoned. It is Yeelen (The Light), awarded at the Festival de Cannes in 1987, which made him known to the public. His movies generally deal with themes such as single mothers and paternity, student’s revolt against the military dictatorship, etc.

Souleymane Cissé is also president of the Union of Creators and Businessmen of Cinema and Audiovisual of West Africa (UCECAO) and organizes the annual international festival of Nyamina, a village near Bamako. The festival on the theme “culture and development” starts from a desire to approach people in difficulties to get them out of isolation by the cinema and aims at highlighting young talents from the West African cinema.


To go further: 

Interview of Souleymane Cissé

Debate: New technologies and evolution of behaviours 

Debate: More accessibility, New usage in a digital era : culture for everyone ? (Philippe Dauman, Souleymane Cissé)