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Year: 2006
USA: New Yorker Films
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: A´ssa Ma´ga, Tiecoura Traore, Helene Diarra, Habib Dembele, Djeneba Kone, Hamadoun Kassogue, Hameye Mahalmadane, A´ssata Tall Sall, William Bourdon, Roland Rappaport, Mamadou Konate, Mamadou Savadogo, Magma Gabriel Konate, Zegue Bamba, Aminata Traore, Madou Keita, Georges Keita, Assa Badiallo Souko, Samba Diakite, Danny Glover, Elia Suleiman, Dramane Bassaro, Jean-Henri Roger, Zeka Laplaine, Ferdinand Batsimba
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Countries: France / Mali
Language: French (English subtitles)
UK: 115 mins
UK Certificate: PG contains mild violence
USA Release Date: 14 February 2007 (Limited Release - New York)
UK Release Date: 23 February 2007

UK Distributor


BAMAKO is Abderrahmane Sissako's poetic and deeply moving, yet highly entertaining film which brings sharply into relief the effects of globalisation on Africa: highlighting the pros and cons of the international community's belated and ethically questionable treatment of debt-ridden countries and Africa in particular.

A mock court filmed within the director Abderrahmane Sissako's own father's courtyard in Bamako, the capital city of Mali, provides the setting. It is where Sissako grew up, with his large extended family and where he remembers the passionate discussions with his father about Africa.

At the court, the plaintiff is Africa and the defendant the World Bank, IMF and other international bodies, accused of causing or increasing Africa's woes. But Sissako doesn't just harangue the west -Danny Glover's wonderful western parody in which he rides into town to take on a crew of cowboys who are wreaking havoc amongst the people of Africa was the director's way of showing that Cowboys aren't all white and that Africa too has to share the blame.

"That is why the cowboy who shoots the 'extraneous' schoolteacher is African." "A large portion of the African elite has never had the courage to act in favour of changing things because each person is only looking selfishly at their own interests." - Abderrahmane Sissako

We see the poetry and drama played out not only in the court, but also immediately outside the walls of the courtyard, where the rich, colourful day-to-day life of the village continues as normal amongst the pleas and the testimonies. The courtyard is part of the house of Mele (Ass´a Ma´ga) and her husband Chaka (Tiecoura Traore). Mele is a bar singer and her husband is out of work - the couple is on the verge of breaking up. They are both far too concerned with their own problems to have a desire to fight for Africa's rights....

Elegant, powerful performances throughout are made all the more remarkable by the fact that the director filmed those taking part in the film unscripted, enabling them to voice real feelings:

"It's worth knowing that I called upon judges and professional lawyers and also real witnesses. I worked a long time with them. I decided what the framework of the proceedings was going to be like and then I let them put it to life. When we were filming, I gave them a lot of freedom when testifying, accusing or defending.

Some of them had been chosen among the victims of the famous "structural adjustments" of the World Bank and the IMF: these are the people that we call the "outcasts", the laid off workers, like those former public servants who found themselves out of work because public services had been privatized and sold to western multinationals... These "witnesses" had the feeling that a real trial was taking place and so when they came to testify in court they voiced their resentment. Here again, I didn't make anything up." - Abderrahmane Sissako

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