Touki Bouki: The greatest African film ever?

15 November 2018


Touki bouki

When it came out in 1973, Touki Bouki was panned by the Senegalese public and press. Yet 45 years on, it deserves to be regarded as one of Africa’s finest films, argues Djia Mambu.

Forty-five years after its release, Touki Bouki (1973) is considered a revolutionary work both in its futuristic themes and its innovative style. And 20 years after the death of the Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty, the visionary film-maker continues to influence new generations.

Yet that wasn’t the initial reaction. “When Touki Bouki was released in 1973, it was panned by the Senegalese public and press; audiences did not understand it,” wrote the journalist Aboubacar Demba Cissokho. “Today Djibril Diop Mambéty’s film has become cult viewing and is a seminal reference in cinema.” This sums up, to my mind, the genuine avant-garde impact of this masterpiece – which was only re-circulated in 2008, when it was digitally restored by Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project. The US director called Touki Bouki “a cinematic poem made with a raw, wild energy”. Read the full article on BBC Culture here.