Diop Mambéty, Djibril
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Director and actor (Colobane, Senegal, 1.23.1945 – Paris, France, 7.23.1998)
Son of a Muslim cleric and member of the Lebou tribe, Djibril Diop Mambéty was born near Senegal’s capital city of Dakar in the small village of Colobane. Mambéty’s interest in cinema began with theater. Having graduated from acting school in Senegal, Mambéty worked as a stage actor at the Daniel Sorano National Theater in Dakar until he was expelled for disciplinary reasons. In 1969, at age 24, without any formal training in filmmaking, Mambéty directed and produced his first short film, Contras’ City. The following year Mambéty made another short, Badou Boy, which won the Silver Tanit award at the 1970 Carthage Film Festival in Tunisia. Mambéty’s technically sophisticated and richly symbolic first feature-length film, Touki Bouki (1973), received the International Critics Award at Cannes Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award at the Moscow Film Festival, bringing the Senegalese director international attention and acclaim. Despite the films success, twenty years passed before Mambéty made another feature film. Hyènes (1992), Mambéty’s second and final feature film, was an adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit. At the time of his death, the film director had been working on a trilogy of short films called Contes des Petites Gens (Tales of the Little People). The first of the three films was Le Franc (1994). At the time of his death Mambéty had been editing the second film of that series, La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun), which premiered posthumously in 1999. His early death to lung cancer, at age 53, occurred in a Paris hospital.
Diop Mambéty crossed Italy and Italian cinema more than once. The sound of Contras’ City was synchronized in Rome at Flor Film by Silvano Castellani. Badou Boy was co-edited by Marino Rio, Hyènes by Lorena Cristelli. Touki Bouki as well was edited in Rome by Siro Asteni, in collaboration with Emma Mennenti. According to film critic Keith Shiri, when in Rome, Mambéty was arrested by Italian police for participating to an anti-racist demonstration. He was kept in prison for five weeks and was left only thanks to the intervention of a lawyer working for Italian Communist Party, and to the intervention of some friends in the film scene such as Bernardo Bertolucci and Sophia Loren. Back in Dakar, apparently he found there waiting for him the costly and unexpected fee of the lawyer.
Besides, in 1972 Diop Mambéty played the role of Simoa the hunter in an episode (La ricerca senza fine, aka The Hunter Search) of Piero Vivarelli’s Il Decamerone nero aka Africa Erotica, an erotic exploitation comedy inspired to the African tales edited by Leo Frobenius, filmed in the surroundings of Matera and also starred by Beryl Cunningham, Isseu Niang, Serigne N’Diaye, and other African and Afrodiscendant actors, with an original soundtrack composed by Luciano Michelini and Bana Sissokho.
Il Decamerone nero (Piero Vivarelli, 1972, ff, act)
Frame taken from:
Il Decamerone nero. Dir. Piero Vivarelli. Finarco, Gerico Sound, Comacico, Paris, 1972.
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi, with Giovanna Di Martino and Renata Ornella Orlando
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