Souleymane Cissé

4 Films in collection

Souleymane Cissé is one of Africa's most admired and respected filmmakers. Born in Bamako, Mali in 1940, Cissé went to high school in Dakar, Senegal. He began his film career as a film projectionist and was moved to begin creating his own films during a screening of a documentary film about Patrice Lumumba's arrest. He obtained a scholarship to the VGIK in Moscow. He then returned to Mali and joined the Ministry of Information as a cameraman, where he produced documentaries and short films. In 1975 he shot Den Muso (The Young Girl), the first full length Malian feature in the Bambara language. It was immediately banned by the government, and Cissé was arrested and jailed for having accepted French funding. His next feature, Baara (Work), was produced in 1977 and won the Etalon de Yennega at FESPACO in 1978, and Finye (The Wind) produced in 1982, won the Tanit d’Or at Carthage Film Festival in 1982 and the Etalon de Yennega in 1983. His 1993 masterpiece, Yeelen (Brightness) won the Prix du Jury in Cannes in 1987. His film Waati (Time) competed for the Cannes Palme d'Or in 1995. Cissé is Founding President of the Union of West African Cinema and Audiovisual Designers and Entrepreneurs and devotes his energy to developing an economically viable African audiovisual industry. He is also on the board of Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation, dedicated to preserving and restoring classic films from around the world.


1965 L'homme et les idoles (Short)
1968 L'aspirant (Stort)
1970/71 Newsreels
1972 Cinq jours d'une vie (Short)
1975 Den muso (The Girl)
1978/79 Baara
1982 Finye (The Wind)
1987 Yeelen (Brightness)
1995 Waati
2009 Min Ye
2012 O Sembene!
2015 O Ka / Our House

Yeelen (Flyer)

Yeelen (1987)

In this epic drama drawing on Bambara culture, which echoes mythic legends in an invented tale, a hero undergoes ordeals that allow him to renovate a decaying society. A young man must penetrate the secrets of the Komo cult (a real caste of specialist knowledge among the Bambara), whose members have abused their spiritual powers. Niamankoro suffers his father's wrath as he travels throughout the Bambara empire and Dogon and Peul societies. More

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Finye (Flyer)

Finye (1982)

Vivid social satire with overtones of Romeo and Juliet, Finye (The Wind) tackles the generation gap in post-colonial West Africa. Its heroine is the pot smoking daughter of a provincial military governor who falls in love with a fellow university student, the descendent of one of Mali's chiefs of an earlier age. Both families object to the union and to the lover's growing involvement in student strikes against the corrupt government. A mix of politics, romance and social commentary, Finye casts a critical eye on both the ancient and modern values. More

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Baara (Flyer)

Baara (1978)

The first feature film ever produced in Mail, Baara (The Porter) is about a young man caught in the growing political and economic tensions of urban Africa. Balla Diarra is a worker in the capital city of Bamako who struggles to survive on his meagar income. After his friend is murdered by an unfeeling factory boss, he must confront increasingly violent choices. Set in a modern city rather than a mythical past or traditional village, Baara offers a portrait of African life not often seen on the American screen. More

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Den Muso - La fille (Flyer)

Den Muso - La fille (1975)

A young mute woman is raped and becomes pregnant, with disastrous consequences within her family. The film also sketches the social/economic situation in urban Mali in the 1970s, particularly in relation to the treatment of women. More

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