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World Cinema Series: Touki Bouki / Journey of the Hyena

What World Cinema Series is a monthly screening of works by the boldest and most inventive auteurs from the history of cinema.
When 5 January 2010 (Tuesday), 7:30 pm
Where National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre
93 Stamford Road Singapore 178897

Free admission but members only -- flash your membership card to go in. You may bring up to 2 guests if you hold a SFS Reel membership card. Non-members may sign up online or at the door -- we will issue membership on the spot. No tickets will be sold. Free seating.


Touki Bouki / Journey of the Hyena

Director: Djibril Diop Mambéty
1973 | Senegal | 95 min | 35mm | Rating to be advised
In Wolof and French with English subtitles

Fusing elements of old African tales with the avant-garde sensibilities of French New Wave directors, Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty created Touki Bouki, one of the most startling and distinctive films of African cinema.

The film tells the story of two young lovers, Mory and Anta who dream of escaping their dreary existence to a romanticised Paris, where they can start a new life together. They wandered the streets of Dakar to the tune of Josephine Baker singing "Paris, Paris" on the soundtrack, hatching wild schemes to raise money for the tickets and the right Western clothes for their journey.

With its mix of primitive and modern imagery, frenetic rhythm, and non-linear narrative, Touki Bouki was unlike any African film the world had ever seen when it was released in 1973. It broke away from the more linear storytelling styles of other African filmmakers like Souleymane Cissé and Ousmane Sembene, and invented a new cinematic language to paint a picture of a nation grappling with neocolonialism and the search for its own identity.

Richly symbolic and visually inventive, Touki Bouki received the International Critics Award at Cannes Film Festival and is widely recognised as Mambéty’s masterpiece.

Touki Bouki will be presented on a new 35mm print recently restored by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna / L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in 2008. The World Cinema Foundation is supported by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority.

Special thanks to Teemour D. Mambéty, Cecilia Cenciarelli, and World Cinema Foundation.


Djibril Diop Mambéty (1945-1998)

"When children ask me, "How does one make a film?" I always say that you have to have freedom to make a film, and to have freedom, you need confidence. I tell them to close their eyes, to look at the stars, and look into their hearts, and then to open their eyes and see if the film they want to make is there, in front of their eyes." - Djibril Diop Mambéty

Director photo courtesy of Maag Daan

Born in 1945 in Dakar, Senegel, Mambéty was a filmmaker, poet, actor and composer. Known for his experimental, improvisational style of filmmaking, Mambéty worked mostly with non-professional actors, and his films revealed both a worldly perspective and a deep concern for the marginalized people in his home country.

After being expelled from the Daniel Sorano National Theater, Mambéty started making short films. His second short Badou Boy (1970) won the Silver Tanit award at the 1970 Carthage Film Festival, but it was his groundbreaking first feature film Touki Bouki (1973) which brought him international recognition and acclaim, winning prizes at the Cannes and Moscow film festivals.

It took him twenty years to make his second and final feature film, Hyènes (1992), which was based on a Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play. Mambéty was in the process of editing a trilogy of short films called Contes des Petites Gens / Tales of the Little People when he passed away from lung cancer at the age of 53.