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ArtMattan Films Remembers Senegalese Filmmaker Khady Sylla (1963-2013)

ArtMattan Films Remembers Senegalese Filmmaker Khady Sylla (1963-2013)

African women filmmakers have a very hard time to have a voice in the concert of voices that today resonate in African cinema. The names of Safi Faye, Fanta Nacro, Khady Sylla, Wanuri Kahiu, Ana Lisboa, Nadia El Fani and many more are not well known. 

However, many of them have a body of work that is impressive as they go into areas that many of the male filmmakers don’t even think about. 

Khady Sylla died last week at the age of 50 and she was an important personality in the context of Senegalese intellectual life. She was a writer, a filmmaker and a thinker. Her point of view about Islam and society, expressed in Angèle Diabang Brener film Islam and Women of Senegal (Sénégalaises et Islam), are very lucid and analytical regarding Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa and women.

Khady Sylla directed three documentaries:

– The Silent Monologue 2008
– An Open Window -2005
– Colobane Express-2000

The Silent Monologue and Colobane Express are distributed by ArtMattan Productions.

Director: Khady Sylla and Charlie Van Damme
From: Senegal / Belgium
Year: 2008- Minutes:48mins
Language : French and Wolof with English subtitles
Genre: Docu-drama

Official selection of the 2012 Locarno Film Festival.

In a voice-over, we hear the thoughts of Amy, a girl from a rural area of Senegal who works as a domestic for a well-to-do family in Dakar. She complains about her employer, who continuously criticizes her and gets on her case, and she talks about her dream of one day opening her own eatery. Meanwhile, we see her sweep the pavement, prepare the food and clean the house. The contrast with her vast and barren native region is enormous.  

In Dakar, some 150,000 young women work as housekeepers for families whose daughters can go to school. “Why does the emancipation of some result in the servitude of others?” Amy wonders. The filmmakers interview other young maids who dream of going to school, and they film a woman who shouts her furious lyrics straight into the camera in rapper-like fashion: “I keep your houses squeaky clean, but you all think I’m dirty!” In a dramatized scene in a slum, the women demonstrate how they’d like to deal with a woman who doesn’t pay her housekeeper enough. In response to the situation, the filmmakers make an appeal to change the rules of the world economy.

The Silent Monologue is a political film, a combative film and a film rooted in the artistic tradition displayed in the work of other Senegalese authors such as Ousmane Sembene, Djibril Diop Mambety and Safi Faye.

The Silent Monologue is the second film by Khady Sylla distributed by ArtMattan Productions. In her other film, Colobane Express, we observe 24 hours in the daily life of drivers and passengers of the public vans in Dakar.


Director: Khady Sylla
From: Senegal/France
Year: 1999 

Minutes: 52
Language: Wolof with English subtitles
Genre: Docu-Drama
Public vans provide the traditional and sole means of city transportation in Dakar, Senegal. In a frenzy of activity, from the outskirts to downtown, people from all walks of life as well as fruits, vegetables, chickens, etc. are transported daily in these public vans. Colobane Express opens a window on a slice of life in the busy urban metropolis where drivers and their trainees are always on the go, managing relationships, incidents and conflicts, dealing with the competition and providing an invaluable service to demanding yet loving customers.

To order The Silent Monologue and/or Colobane Express please contact ArtMattan Films at or call (212) 864-1760.

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