Abderrahmane Sissako

"Since rising to prominence in 2002 with his contemplative but humorous film about one Mauritanian boy’s desire for an electric lightbulb (Waiting for Happiness), his films – addressing globalisation, identity politics and now, most controversially, Islamic radicalism – have offered serious narratives about the realities facing Africa today, told through searingly beautiful images." - Basil Lewandowska Cummings (British Film Institute, 2015)

Abderrahmane Sissako

Director / Screenwriter
(1961- ) Born October 13, Kiffa, Mauritania
21st Century's Top 100 Directors

Key Production Countries: Mauritania, France
Key Genres: Drama, Social Problem Film, Slice of Life, Culture & Society, Docudrama, Comedy Drama
Key Collaborators: Jacques Besse (Cinematographer), Nadia Ben Rachid (Editor)

"Abderrahmane Sissako is one of the brightest talents to emerge in African cinema in over a decade. After studying film in Moscow and making the graduation short, Le Jeu (1990), he began his directorial career proper with the feature October (1993) and the documentary Rostov-Luanda (1988), which follows the director in search of a long-lost friend in Angola." - Richard Craig (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Abderrahmane Sissako’s work is suffused with humanism and social consciousness and explores the complex relations between North and South as well as the fate of a much-beleaguered Africa." - Festival de Cannes
"Abderrahmane Sissako is one of the most celebrated of Africa’s filmmakers, yet he remains something of an outlier. His cinema might best be thought of as free verse rather than narrative cinema, in which every shot is subjected to the teleological necessity of the story, for his images are composed with an uncommon freedom." - Manthia Diawara (Artforum, 2015)
"His films are distinguished not only by great formal beauty and poetic imagery but also by humor, profound sympathy with human suffering, and an almost philosophical inquiry into relations between West Africa and the rest of the world… All of Sissako’s films show great respect for the difficulty of genuine communication across different cultural spaces and for the complexity of translation. Music is important to cinema in general, but Sissako has been especially brilliant in mobilizing the best of African great music to reinforce his visual imagery. Nearly all of his films also make spectacular use of Africa’s extraordinary creativity with textiles." - Walker Art Center (2015)
"Stories about average people who are forced to endure extraordinary circumstances are what led Sissako (Bamako, Waiting for Happiness) to film-making. He remembers: “Very early on I had the sense that I was living in a world that was not very fair. But I was often amazed by people’s beauty. There were people who had nothing but who could easily burst into laughter, while remaining in their state of poverty. I always felt like I had to tell their story and talk about them — the anonymous people." - Elbert Wyche (Screen Daily, 2014)
"After a youth in Mauritania and Mali, film director and producer Aderrahmane Sissako left for Moscow to pursue his cinematographic studies at its leading film school. Here, he produced his first film Octobre (1993), which took Cannes by storm and initiated his career as Africa’s most influential filmmaker. In his work, Sissako confronts an international audience with their lack of interest in the ‘forgotten continent’. He conjures up visions of the displacement of its people and the large-scale violation of human rights in Africa. His critically acclaimed film Timbuktu (2014), picturing an African town and its Muslim inhabitants taken hostage and being terrorized by fundamentalists, was awarded seven Césars and was nominated for both the Palme d’Or and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film." - Nexus Institute
"I love making films, but I don’t at all like the process of making films. Maybe one explanation is that I came to cinema accidentally, not out of passion and the desire to watch films. But when I went to formally study cinema, I was overwhelmed. And I’m still overwhelmed by it." - Abderrahmane Sissako (Film Comment, 2015)
TSPDT Guide
Recommended
Waiting for Happiness (2002) , Bamako (2006) , Timbuktu (2014)
Worth a Look
Life on Earth (1998), Rostov-Luanda (1998)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Abderrahmane Sissako / Favourite Films
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ivan's Childhood (1962) Andrei Tarkovsky, The Kid (1921) Charles Chaplin, Le Retour d'un aventurier (1966) Moustapha Alassane, They Call Me Trinity (1971) Enzo Barboni.
Source: FCAT-Córdoba (2012)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    Timbuktu
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