Here's number 4…
A project we've been tracking since it first showed up on oury radar last fall… a brief catch-up…
The feature film debut of French/Senegalese director Dyana Gaye, whose short film, the vibrant, unorthodox musical Saint Louis Blues, was one of 5 projects selected, financed and produced under the Focus Features Africa First program (she was part of the very first class, announced in 2008).
Titled Des Etoiles (or, in English, Stars), as noted on this blog some months ago, the project was one of 22 selected for the annual Co-production Village, which ran from December 11-13, 2011 at the 3rd Les Arcs European Film Festival; then it was announced as one of 5 debut feature film projects selected at the last 2011 session of the second advance on receipts committee of the National Film and Moving Image Centre (CNC); and most recently, it was one of 15 projects selected for the upcoming Cannes L’Atelier – an initiative which runs during the Cannes Film Festival aimed at finding financing for projects by upcoming directors that are in an advanced state of development.
The beat goes on for the project as it continues to attract international attention and financing; In short, Dyana's upcoming film, as it was in previous co-production markets, will be presented in front of international partners with the intent to attract resources in key phases: financing, production, and distribution.
So why are we excited about it? To answer that question, I'd only recommend watching Saint Louis Blues, her out-of-the-box, wonderfully shot and choreographed musical made under the Focus Features Africa First program, which you can currently find on iTunes, or on DVD.
She's got talent, and, based on her past work, doesn't seem interested in staid, conventional narratives; although she's still very much an unknown (this is her first feature), so there's also that curiousity that excites.
Des Etoiles' synopsis reads:
Over one winter, through the cities of Dakar, Torino and New York, we follow the exiled paths of several interconnected characters. For her husband’s funeral, New Yorker Mame Amy returns to Dakar with her 19-year-old son Thierno, who takes his first ever steps on African soil. Sophie, 24-years-old, leaves Dakar for Torino to join her husband Abdoulaye. He is missing. Abdoulaye has just arrived in New York with his cousin through an organisation of clandestine migrants. As the days go by, their destinies begin to echo one another, through the diversity of the cities they are crossing, somehow all united under the same starry sky.
A little more about Dyana Gaye… she was born in Paris in 1975. She majored in Film Studies at Paris 8 – St Denis University in 1998. In 1999, she won the Louis Lumiere-Villa Medicis grant for her script A Woman For Souleymane which she directed the following year. She was a finalist for the Rolex Mentor and Protege Arts Initiative in 2004; she directed a musical one shot sequence film, Remembering Paris, for the project Paris, La Metisse in 2005. In 2006, her short film Ousmane received numerous distinctions all over the world and was nominated at the Cesar 2008 (French Academy Awards) for Best Short Film.
I'll be looking for Des Etoile to premiere at a festival sometime in late 2012/early 2013.