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(Souleymane Oumar Cissé)


Born: Bamako, Mali, 21 April 1940.

He began his film career as a projectionist after Mali gained its independence in 1960. In 1963, he received the first of several scholarships to study cinema in the Soviet Union at the State Institute of Cinema (VGIK). After returning home in 1969, he made newsreels and documentaries for the Mali State Information Service. His first fiction film was Cinq Jours d'une vie (1972). He has since become one of Africa's most admired filmmakers, drawing on indigenous folklore and experience to explore conflicts in Mali society, particularly that between change and tradition. In 1987, he directed, wrote, and produced Yeelen, the mythic story of a power struggle between two magicians, called by Film Comment "the best African film ever made."

— Ephraim Katz, The Film Encylopedia

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This page was last updated on 23 July 2000.