After its presentation at the Cannes Film Festival in May, the film is in competition at the International French-speaking Film Festival (Fiff) in Namur. Through the journey of her indomitable heroine, Franco-Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy also highlights the ravages of climate change in Africa. (Video extract)
Banel and Adama are like two inseparable birds. Always close to each other, attentive, considerate. Together, when they have to drive the cattle, together when they have to clear the sand from their future home. Their complicity is a pleasure to see and we say to ourselves that they were lucky to have found each other, especially since their marriage was arranged following tradition, after the unexpected death of Adama’s older brother. Banel dreams of living far from the village with her dear husband, far from the routine tasks reserved for women, which surround and confine her. She wants no house, no children, no responsibilities in the village, just to live with Adama in the beautiful houses of the valley, in this arid corner of northern Senegal.
But the drought sets in and forces Adama to move further and further away with his herd, while Banel must now work in the field. The young woman has difficulty coping with the separation and the delay in their future plans.
In the village, tensions rise because the animals suffer and die. Some young people leave to look for work elsewhere and everyone is angry with Adama for refusing to become village chief. Between his mother who wants him to accept this responsibility devolved to his lineage and Banel who does not want to hear about it, Adama is more and more torn.
An incandescent love and a country ravaged by drought
Like the sand that covers the houses in this advancing desert, the luminous power of Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s images carries everything in its path and imposes itself on our conquered gaze. At the same time as the story of Banel insinuates itself into our ears, carried by the voice of the young woman. It is the story of a crazy love which refuses immutable rules and resignation, which overcomes all obstacles. Since Banel and Adama love each other, they must be able to be linked forever.
The magnetic presence of the young actress, Khady Mane, a sort of Diane huntress with unfailing determination, allows the young Franco-Senegalese director to impose her singular and strong story of a young woman deeply in love with love and freedom . A modern and universal figure in a nevertheless immutable framework.
Banel wants to oppose his determination to the strength of tale and tradition.
Faced with daily life which is deteriorating and the incomprehension of the villagers which is growing, Banel has only her absolute love and her determination to oppose them, which makes her a character from a Greek tragedy with sharp aspects. A single woman against a tight-knit community. As the trials multiply on the couple’s road, the romance and the ideal lover reveal their dark side, more tormented, calling into question the image that we can have of this pretty duo and of the The balance that is usually established between the masculine and the feminine.
The drought, which falls on the village and decimates it little by little, also underlines the reality of climate change which is hitting Africa with particular violence and cruelty all the greater since the continent is not one of the mainly responsible for the ongoing ecological disaster.
Beyond its singular female figure, Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s film is also a tribute to her Fulani community, that of her parents and ancestors, the first victim of an increasingly desert rural Africa.
After its acclaimed presentation at Cannes, the film is included in the First Work competition of the International Francophone Film Festival (Fiff), which ends Friday in Namur. The film Banel and Adama*** can be seen this Wednesday 4/10 at 8:30 p.m. and Thursday 5/10 at 3:30 p.m.