Friday, September 18, 2009

Un transport en commun (Saint Louis Blues)

Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: Un transport en commun, directed by Dyana Gaye

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

Just when despair began to set in about the decline in cinema production from sub-Saharan Africa, here comes the irrepressible Dyana Gaye to turn things around. Her new film, Saint Louis Blues, is a musical that takes place on a road trip in Senegal, and the result is every bit as unlikely as it sounds.

At a taxi stop in the capital, Dakar, people gather and wait for the battered old Peugeot station wagon to depart; the taxi won't leave until the driver finds a seventh passenger. As they wait, one woman breaks into song, and suddenly an impromptu musical number begins, right there in the dusty parking lot. And this is not the music you might expect on a Senegalese road trip. In what may be Gaye's most brilliant stroke, she reaches back to the tradition of French musicals from the fifties and sixties to lift her characters into an altogether different register from the world that surrounds them. As if transported straight from a Jacques Demy film, they translate their plight into light lyrics and lilting melodies, stepping gracefully in sync with the music. When the song ends, the story continues.

Gaye lives in both France and Senegal, and the bridge between these worlds has never been so finely expressed as in this film. The bright future of African cinema, she has already won the attention of Focus Features in the United States, who supported this film through their Africa First programme.

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