LE FRANC & THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN
Director: Djibril Diop Mambéty Run Time: 91 min. Language: Wolof, French
Starring: Aminata Fall, Dieve Ma, Lissa Balera
LE FRANC 1994 / Color / 46 min / Senegal / Wolof & THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN 1999 / Color / 45 min / Senegal / Wolof, French
Djibril Diop Mambéty, a towering figure in world cinema, is best known for his two features, Touki Bouki (1973) and Hyenas (1992, re-released in a new restoration by Metrograph Pictures in 2019, and available to screen theatrically from Kino Lorber). Yet these two extraordinary films tell only part of the story of the director’s enormous accomplishments in his too-brief life. Two masterpieces of the medium-length form (commonly referred to as a featurette or moyen métrage) that Mambéty completed in his final years provide us a fuller picture of the elements that define his small, but perfect, filmography—a rich social vision, sly humor, and formal ingenuity. Mambéty initially meant for these films to lead off a trilogy to be titled “Tales of Ordinary People,” but sadly lived only to complete Le Franc and The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun.
In Le Franc, a broke musician (Dieye Ma) comes upon a lottery ticket after his beloved instrument is confiscated by his landlady (Mambéty regular, Aminata Fall); and in the posthumously released The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun, a young girl (an electric Lissa Balera in her first and only on screen performance) decides to sell newspapers on the streets, despite the fact that boys have historically run that racket. The two films function beautifully as a pair of magical realist works grounded in the political realities of Dakar. It is with great pleasure that we present two major works by one of contemporary cinema’s greatest filmmakers.
“Beautifully shot. A delightful slice of realism. Mambéty’s naturalistic handling of the material is a joy to behold.” -David Stratton, Variety on The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun
“With fable-like lyricism, Mambéty’s richly textured view of urban life fuses fiction and documentary. The movie is a virtual musical, featuring religious chants from a teacher of Islam, and songs that stream from a boom-box in the lap of a wheelchair-bound amputee give rise to a street dance that blends fantasy and practicality with joyful wonder.” -Richard Brody, The New Yorker on The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun
“A slice of modern folklore told with an amiable, ironic charm.” -Godfrey Cheshire, Variety on Le Franc
“An enriching work – one that stands head and shoulders above Mambéty’s more famous Touki Bouki.” -Phuong Le, Sight & Sound on Le Franc
“These two inspiring 45-minute short films show a remarkable artist at work.” -Sam Hurwitt, The Austin Chronicle