The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.


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12 August 2021

Safi Faye's Mossane at 25

Safi Faye's Mossane at 25

Mossane, completed in 1990 and released in 1996, is a hidden classic, though not widely distributed, it remains a masterpiece.

A timeless tale...that is the nature of legends, of myths, of allegories. Destiny has been inscribed, fate already determined. Having created a narrative imbued in Serer mythology, structured around the fate of a fourteen-year-old girl, who because of her stunning beauty, is returned to the Pangool spirits through the waters of the Mamangueth, Safi Faye’s cinematic endeavor was to decide in what way to tell the story and how to visualize it.

Mossane catapults a girl's voice and agency to the forefront. The film addresses the right of women to have power over their own bodies and desires and the choice to marry who they choose, by framing the analysis of women's, indeed girls' rights, in the context of the broader discourse on the peasantry, education, custom and modernity.

The prevailing themes that foreground girls'/women’s experiences within the rural sector and countryside, socio-economic matters, education, issues at the intersection of tradition and modernity, highlight the universality of Mossane.

The global discourse inherent in these issues reflect their ongoing relevance and the continued reality of the challenges they raise worldwide. Hence stories of the girl child, the adolescent girl coming of age, are increasingly visible in the corpus of works by women makers in general and African women in particular.

Mossane, a song to women

“This film is a song to women. The things that I find so beautiful, the things that I have lived, and that I have experienced or that I have been told.”--Safi Faye

Safi Faye offers Mossane as a song to women. In the same way, it is a song to the cohort of women represented in the film on the continuum of womanhood: to Mossane, who at fourteen-years-old is coming of age—her life cut short by fate, already etched in the legends of the Serer; to Mingué, who is in the unenviable position as mother of the daughter whose fate has already been inscribed in Serer mythology, which engenders as well the inexplicable amorous feelings that Ngor has for his sister and the ensuing illness that it produces; to Dibor, mentor and confidante to Mossane, who, comfortable with her sexuality, the experiences and pleasures of her body, delights in the marriage with the husband who she loves; to Madame Ndour, who undoubtedly cares for her son, proud of his accomplishments as a wealthy immigrant in France, though unaware that in fulfilling his wishes she would thwart those of her future daughter-in-law; to Mam, the elder wise woman, independent, resourceful, keeper of the knowledge of the history and traditions of the village; to Yandé Codou Sène, who throughout her life sang the praises of the Serer people, recounting its history and grieving those who passed away. Hence, she is conferred the role of the story's raconteur; and then, a song to Safi Faye, herself, who throughout her cinematic journey has sung of women's experiences in the day-to-day of African life.
An ultimately Mossane is a song to all women, everywhere.
Drawn from the article: "Safi Faye's Mossane, a song to women, to beauty, to Africa." Beti Ellerson, Black Camera, an International Film Journal. African Women in Cinema Dossier. (Spring 2019)

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