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Bassori Timité
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Bassori Timité - La Femme au couteau © SIC
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Bassori Timité

Before I was a film director, I was struck by the way black people were represented in the cinema. I found that it was disconnected with reality.

The writer and director Bassori Timité was born in 1933 in Aboisso in Côte d’Ivoire. He is a great figure in Ivorian film, and a reference for cinephiles. The film-maker is involved in developing creation in Côte d’Ivoire, celebrating the strength of image and stating the importance of technique. 

Published on 31/03/2021

2 min

Although Bassori Timité was marked in his childhood by the films he saw in the cinema, he first studied business in Abidjan and followed this path for a number of years. When he understood that theatre was his true vocation, he went to Paris and started the Cours Simon theatre classes in 1956. A year later, the young actor founded the GRIOTS Dramatic Arts Company with his student friends. From 1963, he turned towards documentaries with The Foresters, Abidjan-Niger and Amédée Pierre before filming his first fantasy short film Sur la dune de la solitude (On the Bank of Solitude) a year later. But it was with La Femme au Couteau (The Woman with a Knife) (1968) that he took his place as a major director in the African industry. The film-maker has also published books such as Les Bannis du village (1985) or Les Eaux claires de ma source (1986). 

Bassori Timité plays an important role in African film and laid claim to a new wave, taking an opposing stance to productions that already existed on the continent. As he was disappointed by the representation of black characters in films, he looked to restore a kind of truth. In giving a new view of Africa in film, he made a break with traditional themes such as polygamy, colonialism and traditions. After Bassori Timité directed films creating awareness for television in France – which can no longer be seen –, he worked towards restoring the African universe through short films and one feature-length film, La Femme au Couteau (1968), which has since been considered a classic of African film. As a defender of Côte d’ivoire film, he endeavoured to ensure films were shown in neighbourhoods where culture was not accessible before becoming a member of the Académie des sciences, des arts, des cultures d'Afrique et des Diasporas Africaines (ASCAD – and Academy of African sciences, arts and cultures and African diasporas) to develop production and encourage the younger generations of film-makers to work. 

In 2009, the film-maker was honoured for the whole of his career at the Khouribga Festival of African film before being named President of the Festival’s Jury a year later. That year, he was also honoured at the Rotterdam Festival which showed his pioneering film La Femme au Couteau (1968). A decade later, his film continues to stand the test of time as it is part of the African Heritage Project, an initiative implemented to preserve 50 African films of historical, cultural and artistic importance under the guidance of FEPACI, UNESCO, Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation directed by Martin Scorsese. In 2021, Sur la dune de la solitude (On the Dune of Solitude) (1964) was restored. It is a short film taken from the legend of Mamy Watta, the goddess of water who seduces humans. This film has prime importance, and is considered internationally as the very first Ivorian film that was made.

  • 1933

    1933

    Bassori Timité was born in Aboisso in Côte d’Ivoire.

  • 1957

    1957

    The film-maker became President of the GRIOTS Dramatic Arts Company, which he founded with four student friends.

  • 1964

    1964

    The film-maker directed Sur la dune de la solitude, considered to be the first Ivoirian film

  • 1968

    1968

    Bassori Timité directed his one and only feature-length film, La Femme au couteau

  • 2009

    2009

    The Khouribga African Film Festival, one of the biggest in Morocco, honoured Bassori Timité

The Institut français and the filmmaker

Several films by Bassori Timité, such as La Femme au couteau and Sur la Dune de la solitude, has been screened internationally by the Institut français.

The Institut français, together with the Cinémathèque Afrique, offers a catalogue of over 1,600 African films from 1960 to the present day. Learn more about the Cinémathèque Afrique 

L'institut français, LAB