In 2014, the internationally acclaimed Timbuktu caused the greatest emotion among the films in Competition at the Festival de Cannes. This year Mauritanian director Abderrahmane Sissako returns for the 68th Festival (13-24 May), where he will serve as President of the Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury.
This great poet of contemporary Africa will follow in the footsteps of illustrious directors such as Abbas Kiarostami, Jane Campion, Michel Gondry, Hou Hsiao-hsien and Martin Scorsese.
Born in Mauritania but brought up in Mali and trained in filmmaking in the Soviet Union – at the Moscow VGIK – Abderrahmane Sissako crosses cultures and continents. His 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.
The Game, directed by Sissako during his final year at Film School, was presented at La Semaine de la Critique in 1991, followed two years later by the medium-length Octobre, at Un Certain Regard. Life on Earth and Waiting for Happiness, both featured in the Directors’ Fortnight in 1998 and Un Certain Regard in 2002, thus firmly establishing the director on the international scene.
Bamako, a political parable caught between anger and utopianism, presented Out of Competition in 2006, was followed by Timbuktu in Competition in 2014. This vibrant fictional protest against religious fundamentalism was the first Mauritanian work to be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.
The African director chooses to combat the ominous climate of current events with the power of art and his conviction. “I would never want to make a film that somebody else could make, and I want to see films that I would never make. What’s important to me is the cinema of anonymity – addressing the conflicts but above all the suffering endured by anonymous people – empowering them and making them visible, testifying to their courage and their beauty.”
The President of the Cinéfondation and Short Films Jury and the four figures from the arts world accompanying him will award three prizes to films submitted by Film Schools to the Cinéfondation Selection, as well as the Short Film Palme d’or – to be presented during the Festival’s closing ceremony on Sunday 24 May 2015.
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