When casting The Mahabharata, Peter Brook’s assistant scoured through film studios in search of an actor to take on one of the lead roles, Bhisma the sage. “I saw one shot of a tree and a man as tall and slender as this tree, with an extraordinary presence and quality. It was Sotigui,” recalls Brook in this documentary about the actor. Born in 1936 in Bamako (Mali), Kouyaté belongs to an illustrious family of griots–masters of words who are at once genealogists, historians, masters of ceremonies, advisers, mediators, singers and musicians. He has handed down all these talents, as a composer, dancer, actor and father, to his own children and a multitude of “spiritual children” dispersed across the world, for whom he is a precious guide. Filling each of his roles with profound dignity, he has appeared in some 60 films, including Sia The Dream of the Python directed by his son Dany Kouyate and Names Live Nowhere in which he follows African immigrants in Belgium and tells their story only as a griot could.
Through testimonies by Peter Brook, Jean-Claude Carriere, Jean-Pierre Guigane, and Sotigui Kouyate himself, Sotigui Kouyate: a Modern Griot dresses the portrait of one of Africa’s greatest actor now based in Paris. From Africa to Europe, the film unveils the multiple facets of Sotigui Kouyate, actor, musician and modern griot. Winner ACCT award at the Amiens Film Festival, 1996.
"Despite years away from home and a career spanning many cultures, Malian actor and griot Sotigui Kouyaté has not strayed from his foremost mission: to break ignorance of Africa?s living traditions and spark encounters across continents" Cynthia Guttman, UNESCO Courier journalist