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Born: Senegal, January 1945.
Died: Paris, France, July 1998.

Djibril Diop Mambéty's untimely death in the summer of 1998, at the age of 53, robbed cinema of a rare talent. Mambéty made only a small number of films, but his work shines brightly, offering a personal perspective on contemporary Senegalese culture that is at once insightful, heart-warming, and imaginative. Born in Colobane, a district on the outskirts of Dakar and a locale made famous in his films, Mambéty was trained as an actor. After his expulsion from the Daniel Sorano National Theatre, Mambéty turned his attention to filmmaking. Over the years, he directed a number of short films — Contras' City (1969), Badou Boy (1970), Diabugu (1979) and Parlons Grandmère (1989). His first feature and the film that launched his international reputation, Touki Bouki (1973), is informed by the aesthetic concerns of the French New Wave and successfully transposes these stylistic techniques to an African context, creating a radical work rich in symbolism. Completed nearly twenty years later, Mambéty's second and last feature film, Hyenas (1992), an adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt's play The Visit, stands as his masterpiece. In the latter half of the Nineties, Mambéty directed the first two parts of a planned trilogy, Le Franc (1994) and La Petite Vendeuse de SoleilL (1999), which premiered posthumously.

— Susan Oxtoby, Cinematheque Ontario

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This page was last updated on 3 September 2000.