Teaser Unveiled for Cannes Competition’s Sole Feature Debut ‘Banel & Adama’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Sales banner Best Friend Forever has unveiled the teaser for Ramata Toulaye-Sy’s buzzed-about Senegalese drama “Banel & Adama,” which is the sole feature debut slated for the competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

The lushly lensed female emancipation drama, set to bow on May 20, takes place in a remote village of Northern Senegal where Banel and Adama are fiercely in love. Longing for a home of their own, they have decided to live apart from their families. When Adama refuses his blood duty as future chief and informs the village council of his intentions, the whole community is disrupted and chaos ensues.

The film was shot in Pulaar language with a cast of local non-professional actors, including Khady Mane, Mamadou Diallo, Binta Racine Sy and Moussa Sow.

Toulaye-Sy said she wanted the film to tell a tragic love story that would be relatable to everyone. The helmer, who studied at France’s prestigious film school La Femis, said she was also interested in setting the action in Senegal where her parents are from. “When I started working on the script, I felt that most contemporary African films I watched were dealing with violence, war, terrorism and poverty… and were all made with a naturalistic aesthetic,” she said.

“That’s when I realized that I had this desire to make a universal that would speak to Africans but not only. I’ve been passionate about literature since my childhood and I dreamed of a great tragedy, a tale, weaved with magic realism and poetry,” Toulaye-Sy continued. She also said she felt proud to belong to a new generation of African filmmakers who are making different kinds of movies, mixing drama and genre elements, like Mati Diop, whose Senegalese ghost movie “Atlantics” won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2019.

Toulaye-Sy previously directed the short film “Astel” which played at Toronto, New Directors/New Films and Clermont, where it won the Special Jury award, among 80 festivals to date. She also co-wrote “Our Lady of the Nil” which played at Toronto, and “Sibel” which played at Locarno and Toronto.

“Banel & Adama” was produced by Eric Névé and Maud Leclair Névé at the Paris-based company La Chauve-Souris (“The Pirogu”), Margaux Juvénal at Take Shelter. Souleymane Kébé at Astou Production is co-producing. Tandem will release the film in France.

The crew includes the editor Vincent Tricon (“Divines”), cinematographer Amine Berrada (“The Unknown Saint”) and music composer Bachar Mar-Khalifé (“My Brothers and I,” “Skies of Lebanon”).


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