This month, the US Theatrical Premiere of Dancing The Twist In Bamako Robert Guédiguian’s visually stunning drama about young love and shifting political realities in postcolonial Mali in the 1960s, Dancing The Twist In Bamako, will take place.
Dancing The Twist In Bamako
On Friday, February 24, ArtMattan Films and Film Forum are pleased to present the US premiere of DANCING THE TWIST IN BAMAKO, directed by Robert Guédiguian. The 1960s were a time of transformation everywhere, including Bamako, Mali’s capital, which was only recently declared independent from French colonial rule.
DANCING THE TWIST IN BAMAKO is a love story with the musical energy of that decade and the drama of political change. Samba, a young socialist with high ideals, works during the day to make the country more just and dances at night with his girlfriend Lara to the Beach Boys, Otis Redding, and the Supremes.
The vibrant patterns, compositions, and images of Malick Sidibé, a renowned Malian photographer who documented the styles and ebullient culture of postcolonial Malian youth, are the source of the film’s sensibility. Shot against the striped backdrop of their dance club and the black and white checked dance floor they cut up, Lara’s orange silk dress and Samba’s stunning white suit all suggest that change is coming quickly and that life is meant to be lived.
According to Vogue’s Rebecca Bengal, Malick Sidibé captured the dynamism and joy of a rapidly changing West Africa in graphic, vigorous black-and-white photographs throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
He concentrated particularly on the style vernaculars: the bold suits, the prints that are intentionally contrasting, the girls wearing headdresses and cat-eye sunglasses, the kids in full tribal costumes and face paint, and the dancers taking off their shoes. His settings—the places where people came to be seen and dressed the part—were the party, club, and dance floor.
Robert Guédiguian, whose 2019 film GLORIA MUNDI won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival, worked on DANCING THE TWIST IN BAMAKO with César award-winning screenwriter Gilles Taurand (HEAL THE LIVING, FAREWELL MY QUEEN). With a powerful love story set in a country torn between tradition and revolution, the film explores a lesser-known aspect of Mali’s history. In Australia, Italy, and Paris, Guédiguian’s work has been the subject of international retrospectives.
Cineuropa’s Fabien Lemercier explained that the story is fueled by youth’s innocence, enthusiasm, and even simplicity against the backdrop of a class struggle utopia confronted by “realpolitik.” Robert Guediguian’s 22 feature films are permeated by an unwavering fidelity to the necessity of the class struggle, filtered through the intimate. A dive into the past punctuated by a slew of hits from the early 1960s whose fragrance of effervescent happiness is tinged with nostalgia and tragedy, like a challenge to time and the dictates of the mind.