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Touki Bouki

Djibril Diop Mambéty

Mory, a cowherd, and Anta, a university student, try to make money in order to go to Paris and leave their boring past behind.

“With a stunning mix of the surreal and the naturalistic, Djibril Diop Mambéty paints a vivid, fractured portrait of Senegal in the early 1970s. In this French New Wave–influenced fantasy-drama, two young lovers long to leave Dakar for the glamour and comforts of France, but their escape plan is beset by complications both concrete and mystical. Characterized by dazzling imagery and music, the alternately manic and meditative Touki bouki is widely considered one of the most important African films ever made.” – Janus Films

“This 1973 first feature by Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety is one of the greatest of all African films and almost certainly the most experimental.” Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

“Touki Bouki is a mind-blowing Afro-Funk experiment. It is not an easy film to describe. It is about a young man and woman. They might be in love. How they met, we do not know. They live in a modern African city, and they do not exactly fit with the modern world or the traditional one. They spend much of the film on a motorcycle with cattle horns mounted on the handlebars. They seem to be looking for something but are clearly going nowhere. Then they meet a gay man at a posh hotel, steal his clothes, become local celebrities, and then try to flee the country.” Charles Mudede, The Stranger

“Fantasies are as revealing of character as material circumstances are, and since movies themselves are fantasies, they offer diagnostic cross sections of the inner lives of those who make and watch them. Djibril Diop Mambéty’s first feature, “Touki Bouki,” from 1973 (which I discuss in this clip) is rooted in fantasy—the desire of a young couple from Dakar, Senegal, to emigrate to Paris, a city that they have never seen and only imagine, and the vision of the young man, Mory, of the prosperity and renown that he’ll attain there. Throughout the movie, Mambéty doesn’t stint on depicting the practicalities—economic, political, religious, ceremonial, and even geographical—of life in Dakar, but he reveals their phantasmic implications. He does so by way of images that are both incisive and flamboyant, that join his documentary avidity to his imaginative flair. The way the city looks in “Touki Bouki” is the way that it looks and feels not only to the characters but, above all, to Mambéty; the touchstone of his artistry is the emotional and even philosophical coherence of his vision.” Richard Brody, The New Yorker


  • 2/11 | 7:00PM
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