The lost movie of the week: Hyenas (1992)

African cinema is very versatile but still unknown which is a pity because there are some great films.  Senegal is not particularly famous for their cinema but it has one surrealistic, punk genius named Djibril Diop Mambéty.

A once-prosperous Senegalese village has been falling further into poverty year by year until the village’s elders are reduced to selling town possessions to pay debts. Linguère, a former resident and local beauty, now very rich, returns to this, the village of her birth. She is half made of gold. What she finds back home is a vacuous Africa, in love with TV soap operas and fridges.

Djibril Diop Mambéty chooses a surrealistic topic and gives it a satiric and even cynical tone to project the state of Senegal.  The film is partly based on the Swiss play “The Visit” (Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s). Djibril Diop Mambéty wants his dark anthropological satire to be stylish and filled with vibrant colours and fast paced editing rhythms which gives the film an intense pace creating a vibrant story on greed and how modernization has changed the lives of his compatriots.  The acting is extremely good with Ami Diakhate, excellent as the film’s vengeful elderly woman and Mansour Diouf starring as the amiable shopkeeper immune to the greed.

The film was nominated for the Golden Palm Award in Cannes in 1992 and it should have deserved even more praises for it vision and acting.

Stanley Berenboom

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