ArtMattan Productions - Films and Videos about Africa and the African Diaspora
home page
films index
ordering information
about us
contact us
our films

Great African Films Vol 1


The fourth installment in this series of award-winnig films from Africa includes Moussa Toure's impressive "The Pirogue" and Khady Sylla's incisive docs "Colobane Express" and "The Silent Monologue."

Great African Films Vol. 4 DVD price: $495


Director: Moussa Toure
From: Senegal / France / Germany
Year: 2012-Minutes:87mins
Language : French and Wolof with English Subtitles
Genre: Drama

The Pirogue

In Moussa Toure's powerful epic fiction film, a group of 30 men and a woman sail to Europe in a pirogue, facing the sea - and the possibility of never reaching their destination - in exchange for the myth of a better life in Europe.

"Senegal, a West African nation on the Atlantic Ocean, was home to Africa's greatest movie-maker, Ousmane Sembene. Today, Moussa Toure follows in the master's footsteps with this drama of 30 men (and one woman, a stowaway) who set out on an illegal 7-day voyage to Spain - making the perilous trip in a pirogue - a boat resembling a vastly oversized dinghy. While sharing a common desire to build a better future, these men hail from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The story grows from a finely delineated mosaic of personalities - reactions to the journey's mounting danger - that span the emotional panoply of human experience. Toure's compelling tale says as much about the universal nature of courage and perfidy as it does about the economic realities faced by so many of the world's people. THE PIROGUE was featured in Cannes 2012, in the Un Certain Regard section." ~ Film Forum.

* Festival international du Film de Cannes, Un Certain Regard, 2012
* Tanit d'or award, Carthage Film Festival, 2012
* Award for best direction, people's choice award, Angouleme, 2012
Prix Lumieres award for best French-language film, Locarno International Film Festival


Director: Khady Sylla
From: Senegal/France
Year: 1999African FilmMinutes: 52
Language: Wolof with English subtitles
Genre: Docu-Drama

Public vans provide the traditional and sole means of city transportation in Dakar, Senegal. In a frenzy of activity, from the outskirts to downtown, people from all walks of life as well as fruits, vegetables, chickens, etc. are transported daily in these public vans. Colobane Express opens a window on a slice of life in the busy urban metropolis where drivers and their trainees are always on the go, managing relationships, incidents and conflicts, dealing with the competition and providing an invaluable service to demanding yet loving customers.


Director: Khady Sylla and Charlie Van Damme
From: Senegal / Belgium
Year: 2008 Minutes:48mins
Language : French and Wolof with English subtitles
Genre: Docu-drama

In a voice-over, we hear the thoughts of Amy, a girl from a rural area of Senegal who works as a domestic for a well-to-do family in Dakar. She complains about her employer, who continuously criticizes her and gets on her case, and she talks about her dream of one day opening her own eatery. Meanwhile, we see her sweep the pavement, prepare the food and clean the house. The contrast with her vast and barren native region is enormous. In Dakar, some 150,000 young women work as housekeepers for families whose daughters can go to school. "Why does the emancipation of some result in the servitude of others?" Amy wonders. The filmmakers interview other young maids who dream of going to school, and they film a woman who shouts her furious lyrics straight into the camera in rapper-like fashion: "I keep your houses squeaky clean, but you all think I'm dirty!" In a dramatized scene in a slum, the women demonstrate how they'd like to deal with a woman who doesn't pay her housekeeper enough. In response to the situation, the filmmakers make an appeal to change the rules of the world economy.


Comparatively speaking, there are more male filmmakers in Sub-Saharan Africa than women filmmakers. Mostly known in Francophone quarters, Khady Sylla is one of the few female filmmakers, and a published writer, from Sub-Saharan Africa. Her work is representative of a movement of images and ideas in African and Afro-Centric films that are inclined to take a critical look at society.

ArtMattan Films is pleased to recognize the work of Khady Syllla in this Great African Films - Volume 4. 

The Silent Monologue/Le Monologue de la Muette, co-directed with Charlie Van Damme, is a 45 minute visual and poetic analysis of the life of maids in Senegal reminiscent of Ousmane Sembene's classic Black Girl.

The Silent Monologue follows the life of Amy who, at a very young age, is sent to Dakar to work for a Senegalese family. In Black Girl, Ousmane Sembeme zoomed on the life of a Senegalese maid working for a white French family in Senegal and France. Khady Sylla does not leave her native Senegal and the team behind the camera gives us a very incisive analysis of an African society, its casts and class issues and the unfulfilled dreams of independence.

The Silent Monologue is a film that goes beyond the slogan Africa for Africans to promote the notion of a better Africa for all Africans. As in Black Girl, the maid is mainly silent. But here, we hear a persistent monologue that Amy has in her head as she goes about performing the daily tasks of her daily life reflecting on the ills of a contemporary Senegalese society.

With a combination of documentary and theatrical mise en scene, the authors give Amy a voice that is the voice of a woman in one of the lowest echelons of society, however capable of a lucid analysis of her human conditions and that of her peers.

The Silent Monologue is a political film, a combative film and a film rooted in the artistic tradition displayed in the work of other Senegalese authors such as, Ousmane Sembene, Djibril Diop Mambety, Safi Faye and Moussa Toure.


Born in Senegal in 1958, Moussa Toure began his career as an electrician and assistant director. He shot his first short film in 1987 and followed it up in 1991 with his first feature film, TOUBAB-BI, which received several awards internationally. In 1987, he founded his own production company, Les Films du Crocodile (Dakar). The company primarily financed his documentary work, which were lauded critically and received many awards. In 1997, he directed TGV with Makena Diop, Bernard Giraudeau and Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, which became a success in Africa. By the turn of the century, Toure had shot over ten projects, spanning shorts, documentaries and features. In 2011 he was selected as President of the Jury for the Documentary section at the FESPACO (Panafrican Cinema Festival of Ouagadougou). His film LA PIROGUE was in the official selection of the 2012 Cannes Film Festival in the "Un Certain Regard" Section. He was selected as jury for the "Un Certain Regard" section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Khady Sylla (March 27, 1963 - October 8, 2013) was a Senegalese writer of two novels, short work, and film. Born in Dakar, she studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure where she became interested in a literary career. She later became one of a small number of African women film makers.  "Solitude, withdrawal into oneself, the incommunicability that gnaws at you, the stranglehold must be released, freeing the voice to speak, and speak again about what hurts. In summary, this is essential to the work of the writer and cineaste Khady Sylla." African Women in Cinema


DVD sale: $545
DVD entitled GREAT AFRICAN FILMS - VOL 4 - includes feature films The Pirogue, Colobane Express and The Silent Monologue

Public libraries and K-12 DVD sale: $29.95

African Films