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Award-Winning Senegalese Filmmaker Alain Gomis Wraps Up His Next Film, a Drama Titled ‘Félicité’

Award-Winning Senegalese Filmmaker Alain Gomis Wraps Up His Next Film, a Drama Titled 'Félicité'

Senegalese director, Alain Gomis’ 3rd feature film, “Tey” (or “Today” in English) received much coverage on this blog in 2012/2013, and made my list of top African Diaspora films to see the year of its initial release.

Via BelleMoon Productions, it enjoyed a limited theatrical run here in the USA in 2013, so I’m sure some of you got to eventually see it. It doesn’t appear to have been released on home video in the USA unfortunately, which is a surprise. But I’ll investigate and update when I know more.

The fantastical narrative, which stars Saul Williams and Aissa Maiga, follows a man named Satche (played by Williams) during the last 24 hours of his life.

I learned today that Gomis is currently in post-production on his next feature film, which is titled “Félicité.”

It was shot last fall in Kinshasa (DRC) and Senegal, and stars Véronique Beya Mputu, Gaetan Claudia and Mpaka Longi, in a story written by Gomis, Olivier Loustau and Delphine Zingg, that centers around a single mother named Félicité, a singer in Kinshasa living with Samo, her 16-year-old son, who is at risk of losing his leg from an accident, unless she can come up with the money to pay for the operation. His leg will be amputated otherwise, sending Félicité on a city-wide quest to raise the necessary funds.

Gomis spoke very briefly about the project in a 2015 interview I was able to dig up online, saying (translated from French, thanks to Google): “This is the story of a woman named Felicity, a singer in a folk group in Kinshasa. She lives alone with her son. One morning she learns from the hospital that he had an accident, he risks losing his leg, but Felicity cannot find the money for the operation. Felicity embarks on a desperate search for the means. But when she almost reaches her goal, it’s too late, and the hospital amputates her son’s leg anyway. And her whole world collapses around her … The role is also played by a Congolese actress. [In coming up with the idea] I listened to the Kasai folk music on an album with a band called Kasai All Stars (bizarrely, I am surprised that the group is not very well known here in Congo). The voice of the singer, Mua Mbuyi, immediately sparked a character in my mind. What I find very beautiful in this music is that, it is traditional, that is to say, deeply rooted in tradition, and yet it is also extremely modern. There’s everything in it. I almost hear electronic music in the sounds that have been changed and all. It is music I find that brings together tradition and ultra-modernity.”

So I suppose we can assume that a dominant theme in “Félicité” will be the ongoing “battle” between tradition and modernity – a theme that has been, and still is popular among African filmmakers, reflecting internal (and external) struggles.

It’s Gomis’ 4th feature in about 15 years. A spring premiere is eyed – possibly as a Cannes Film Festival selection; although “Tey,” his last film, premiered at the Berlinale in 2012.

“Félicité” is produced by Arnaud Dommerc for French production house Andolfi, with Granit Films (France), Cinekap (Senegal), Need Productions (Belgium) and Abbout Productions (Lebanon).

The film received support from the CNC’s Aid to World Cinema, the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), aid to rewriting from the Lower Normandy region, the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund, the Brot für die Welt, the Directorate General for Development (Belgium), the FOPICA of the Ministry of Culture of Senegal, and the Gabonese Institute of Image and Sound.

No trailer and not much media on the film yet; All I could find is the above image of Félicité.

Read our 2013 interview with Gomis on here.

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