“Atlantique” by Senegalese director Mati Diop selected for the Cannes Film Festival
7 May 2019
Yes she Cannes! “Atlantique”, the film debut from French-Senegalese director Mati Diop, will be competing for the very prestigious Palme d’Or. This marks the first time that a film by a black female director has been selected for the festival’s Official Selection.
Mati Diop, the first female black director to compete for the Palme d’Or with “Atlantique”
It is actually the first time in the history of the Cannes Film Festival, that a film directed by a black female has been selected to compete in the Official Selection. To many, it may not be a surprise that the woman changing the narrative is the French-Senegalese director Mati Diop: she is actually none other than the niece of the late iconic filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty, a Cannes Alumnus who won the International Critics Award for his 1973 cinematic masterpiece “Touki Bouki”.
Set in a popular suburb of Dakar, along the Atlantic coast, “Atlantique” follows Ada, a 17-year-old girl. She is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker, working on the soon-to-be inaugurated futuristic tower, but she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave Senegal by sea, hoping for a better future. However, when Ada’s wedding is ruined by fire several days later, the young girl knows that Souleiman has returned.
The film was shot on location, in Dakar, notably in the cities of Diamniadio, Yoff, and Thiaroye, also known as the places where illegal immigrants start their journey.
Born in Paris, Diop started out as an actress before deciding to follow in her uncle’s footsteps. In 2013, she wrote and directed the documentary film “Milles Soleils”, an homage to Magaye Niang, “Touki Bouki”’s leading actor. The film won the Grand Prix at the Marseille Festival of Documentary Film.