Dani Kouyaté is back after « Keïta, l’héritage du griot » with another perfectly handled legend. This fable about the power struggles that continue to cause violent bloodshed in Africa, adapted from the play by the Mauritanian Moussa Diagana that is itself inspired by the Wagadu legend, is passionate from beginning to end. The well-maintained suspense, the remarkable work on the costumes and settings, a music that serves the narrative, and the tight montage and multiple intrigues which keep the tension going make « Sia » an all-round performance. The only reserve is that the slightly too well oiled machine leaves you yearning for the life that brimmed from « Keïta’s » improvisations.
« They’re mad at my tongue but they smash my nose », cries the madman Kerfa, brilliantly played by Hamadoun Kassogué. The focus on madness in the film echoes the importance of mad characters in African literature. The madman is both wise and subversive. He represents difference, the grain of sand in the machine of power and the traditions. He provokes and incites change. « Madness cannot be willed », he tells the king when the latter tries to tap his wisdom at the end of a confrontation that will remain a classic in the history of African film.
It is this madman, protected by his madness, who challenges everything, notably the ruling powers in the film and the power of myths in understanding the world. For « Sia » also challenges the epic tales handed down by the griots, who sing the praises of these epic characters, often blowing their totalitarian and bloody excesses out of proportion on the pretext that they flatter nationalist sentiment. By unveiling of the instruments of power and their resultant relativity, the film offers a highly modern relation to politics in which the stake becomes not a radical dignity of representation but one’s own dignity, one’s own madness in refusing to perpetrate the lie on which exploitation is founded.
2001, 96 min, 35 mm, colour, Bambara, prod. Sahélis/La Lanterne, staring Fatoumata Diawara (Sia), Sotigui Kouyaté (Wakhané), Habib Dembélé (the griot, Bala), Hamadoun Kassogué (Kerfa), Ibrahim Baba Cissé (Mamadi), Kardigué Laïco Traoré (Kaya Maghan). Distrib. Pierre Grise (00 33 1 45 44 20 45).///Article N° : 5588