Souleymane Cissé: The Idealistic Cinephile
Souleymane Cisse is a Malian Filmmaker (b. April 21, 1940, Bamako, Mali) and one of the most popular directors in Africa. He became a film devotee as a young child, when his brothers took him to the open air cinemas of Bamako. By the time he graduated from secondary school, he had already organized a student film group and mastered the skills of a projectionist. After seeing a film on Patrice Lumumba (below), former leader of the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, in 1962, Cisse decided to become a filmmaker and won a scholarship to the state Institute of Cinema in Moscow in 1963.
After graduating in 1969, Cisse returned to mali, where he was hired to make newsreels and documentaries for the Ministry of Information. Three years later he completed his first fiction film, Cinq Jours D’une Vie (1972). This like all of his subsequent feature films- Den Muso (1975)
and Yeelen (1987)
all of which have won acclaim at international film festivals. Although Cissé’s style has been influenced by Italian neorealism and by Soviet social realism, his working conditions have been shaped by the socioeconomic realities familiar to most African filmmakers.