It's one of the 12 projects selected for Locarno Film Festival's Open Doors co-production market, which is focusing on French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa this year.
In coming up with its selections, the prominent Swiss fest recruited African cinema pros to consult in choosing the dozen participating projects that were to be announced at the end of last month.
The project in question is S&A fave actress Aissa Maiga's feature film direcorial debut titled Il faut quitter Bamako (We've Got to Leave Bamako).
Since that announcement, I've been working to get more information on the project, as nothing, other than the title, was available when Locarno revealed its 2012 selections. And thanks to Ms Maiga herself, and her publicist, I have a little more info on Il Faut Quitter Bamako, starting with the full synopsis which reads:
Two young women, a plane, a coffin. Maimouma, from Paris, age 30, is coming to Mali, the country of her birth, to bury her father. After landing in Bamako, she finds herself trapped in a sandstorm. At the other end of Mali, the coffin has been there waiting for her since the night before. That’s when she meets a young African woman called Edith, middle-class but not quite with it, who suggests they ride to Gao on her motorbike. Gentle madness and wild will to live, two women, one motorbike, a road trip that gets out of hand.
Aissa Maiga will star as well, by the way, alongside Malian musician/actress Fatoumata Diawara, as our two young women.
And adding further to the above synopsis, Ms Maiga states the following in her director's note:
I want to show Africa from an angle it’s never been seen before, at one and the same time strange and familiar, strong and weakened. Without miserabilism, paternalism, or angelicism. Maïmouna is motion, life, running ahead of herself. A contemporary gaze on contemporary Africa. She has grown up in France in a virtually imaginary Africa. Her father, in exile, was keen to shed the customs from back home, vestiges of a painful past. Part escape, part homecoming, Il Faut Quitter Bamako will be a Malian road movie, a story about an unusual, irrational friendship between two women on the run, which will bring Maimouma face-to-face with her origins.
I can't help but be intrigued, even with these few sentences.
The project has an expected production start date of February 2013, with Tom Dercourt of French production company Cinema Defacto producing, so we won't see this until some time next year, or even the year after.
Co-productions between African filmmakers and European production houses/financiers certainly aren't new. Several African films we've talked about on this site fall under that umbrella; like Viva Riva!, for example – which was a Congolese, French, Belgian and South African co-production, funded by Canal Plus and Belgium’s film fund.
Open Doors 2012 co-production market will run Aug. 4-7, during the Aug. 1-11 Locarno fest.
And while we wait… Aissa will next be seen in Philippe Niang's Toussaint L'Ouverture film which stars Jimmy Jean-Louis as the titular character; she's also in Alain Gomis' Aujourd'hui opposite Saul Williams, and Michel Gondry's adaptation of the 1947 satirical fantasy novel Mood Indigo which also co-stars Omar Sy.
She's certainly busy… glad that she's also getting behind the camera next.