A screenwriter, director and producer, Moly Kane works to promote African cinema. Having just closed the second edition of the Dakar Court festival in December, the young Senegalese artist is optimistic about the future of African cinema.
Why did you found the Dakar Court Festival in 2018?
Dakar Court promotes Senegalese and African short films. The festival was born out of an observation: over the last ten years, young Senegalese filmmakers have made many short films – although of course only a dozen of them are at a level where they are likely to stand out from the crowd and win an international award. It's also not unusual for certain established directors who have made feature films to turn to short films mid-career. But the short form has been shunned by producers, who believe there is no money in these projects. I shared this observation with the people I trust, directors and actors alike. They supported me in the festival project.
Dakar Court offers workshops, round tables and professional meetings. Is this aspect as important as the screenings themselves?
These meetings give many young people who are currently training with Talent Dakar the opportunity to speak with the guest directors, screenwriters and producers in order to get to know the institutions better, to identify the different professions in the film industry and to discover resources – such as specifically funding from the Cinémathèque Afrique – or to better understand issues of financing and the various forms of aid which exist. It’s important to be able to meet with the experts to ask questions and get answers!
How do you select the films?
Following the call for applications launched in February 2019, we received 200 films from Africa and the diaspora. After an initial pre-selection process by a committee of external experts which narrowed the field to 30, 11 films were selected by an internal committee. They competed for the festival's 5 awards: the Distribution Prize, which recognises a film that does not have a distributor; the Best Female and Male Performance Awards; the National Prize – reserved for Senegalese films; and the Jury Grand Prize.
How do you feel about this second edition?
Very positive! The number of visitors doubled between the first and second editions, from 2,500 to 4,000 visitors. That’s incredible. There wasn’t room to seat everyone in the theatres where the films from the selection were being shown, there were more people outside than inside, people were even sitting on the floor. And you could see that the cinephile audience was there for the opening and closing ceremonies.
The international jury was chaired by Euzhan Palcy, the first female director to win a César award, in 1984, for her Black Shack Alley (Rue Cases-Nègr”). Alongside her were Berni Goldblat, Selly Rabi Kane, Gora Seck and Olivier Barlet.
Through this festival, you prove that African cinema is rich, yet it is still often seen as the poor cousin of the global film industry. How do you see African cinema today?
I am convinced that African cinema is doing well. It is like a young schoolboy who has just graduated from primary school with high marks, which means that he is on the right road to pass his next exams, and even graduate from high school. Today, technology allows us to do things that previous generations could not do because they were very expensive. Now, all you need is a camera and an SD card.
Economically, Africa doesn’t count for much, that is true, but in the years and decades to come, it will! The opening of new cinemas, such as the Pathé-Gaumont complex planned for 2020 in Dakar, is a very good sign.
You are a director yourself. Which filmmakers have inspired you?
I could mention Ousmane Sembene, considered the father of African cinema: he was the first African to receive an award at the Festival de Tours, in 1963, for Borom Sarret, and also to have made a film in colour, Ceddo. He also founded the FESPACO in Ouagadougou.
Among living filmmakers, whom I follow closely, I would name Souleymane Cissé, and in particular his film Den Muso (“The Young Girl”, 1975), which left a strong impression on me, Alain Gomis, who won the Silver Bear in Berlin for Félicité (2017), Euzhan Palcy and Raoul Peck.
You founded Ciné Banlieue Dakar with your colleagues and Abdel Aziz Boye, created your production company Babubu films and you also chair the Cinémarekk association which supports Dakar Court. Where do you find the energy for all these cinema projects?
All this energy comes from my past. I was born in Pikine, on the outskirts of Dakar, where 2 million people live. It's an economically poor neighbourhood, but you’ll find men and women with strong values there, who fight every day for the country's economy. My generation was educated by our parents, most of whom were illiterate but who nonetheless gave us a valuable education. They made us understand that in life, it takes a strength of resistance, will and courage to determine your path. I got this from my parents and my brothers, but also through the community - because it educated us too. Also, I'm a disabled person so I had to face the way others see me, which taught me a lot. When I commit to a project, I say like Obama: Yes, we can, yes I can. For every project I undertake, from charities to festivals, I give everything I have. If I have one piece of advice for young people, it's that you have to study. Hard work always pays off in the end.
The Dakar Court Festival is supported by the Institut français.
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