13 -15 Nomvember, 2014 // Daily from 7 pm // Free Admission


In collaboration with the curator and film scholar Marie-Hélène Gutberlet, Portikus continues its African Cinema Series with the virtually complete oeuvre of Djibril Diop Mambety, one of the most idiosyncratic figures in cinema between the 1960s and the 1990s.

On three consecutive nights, Portikus screens the works of the filmmaker, storyteller, poet, composer, and actor Djibril Diop Mambety. Mambety made a relatively small number of films known only to small circles of connoisseurs in Senegal and abroad. Critics have praised his radical and experimental technique as well as the surreally fractured visual language of his films, which are driven forward by the soundtrack. The emergence of Mambety’s novel urban style with its undertones of subversion coincides with the radical impulses of the cinema of the 1960s. His films integrate a wide range of influences from movies, the theater, visual art, and music that enrich the complexity, artistic sophistication, and sense of humor as well as pathos of his work. Mambety worked closely with his brother, the musician and composer Wasis Diop, a prolific author of movie scores who wrote the music for Mambety’s films Hyènes and La petite vendeuse du Soleil as well as the remake The Thomas Crown Affair. The explosive energy of Mambety’s films echoes in the debut film by Mati Diop, the niece of the filmmaker, who died in Paris in 1998. Her Mille Soleils (2013) pays tribute to Mambety’s best-known film, Touki Bouki—part exploration of the original’s genesis, part sequel, it sketches the outlines of a future new avant-garde cinema.



In Mambety’s films, Senegal’s capital Dakar figures as a sort of hypertrophic growing medium, a resonance chamber in which wanderers, urban neurotics, and lovers roam. The ramblers of his films indulge in reveries, imagining themselves in faraway places. Some stay, others leave. Contras’ City, Mambety’s first film, comments on the colonial-era city Dakar was in 1968: divided into a wealthy part that felt like a French town and a poor “indigenous” section. In Mille Soleils, Mati Diop goes looking for characters from the old films; she finds them, but she leaves us guessing how real or fictional her filmic sequel to Touki Bouki, regarded as one of the most innovative works of African filmmaking, actually is.

Contras’ City 1968, 21’ (originally on 16mm stock)
Direction, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety, production: Kankourama, cinematography: Georges Bracher, music: Djimbo Kouyaté, editing: Jean-Bernard Bonis, Marino Rio, with Inge Hirschnitz, Djibril Diop Mambety.

Mille Soleils 2013, 45’
Direction, screenplay: Mati Diop, cinematography: Mati Diop and Hélène Louvart (video and 35mm), production: Corinne Castel, with Magaye Niang, Ben Diogaye Beye, Wasis Diop, and Mareme Niang.

Touki Bouki 1973, 95’ (originally on 35mm stock)
Direction, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety, production: Cinegrit / Studio Kankourama, cinematography: Pap Samba Sow, music: Josephine Baker, Mado Robin, Aminata Fall, editing: Siro Asteni and Emma Mennenti, with Magaye Niang and Mareme Niang.


Mambety’s first feature film Badou Boy stages a wild chase through the city. The art direction around the two lead characters—the “bad boy,” a petty criminal and urban cowboy, and a policeman—blends slapstick and psychedelic surrealism, caustic social critique and the untranslatable white noise of the city. Hyènes, an extraordinary adaptation of Dürrenmatt’s play “The Visit,” is often read as a sequel to Touki Bouki: like the earlier film, it features a young woman who has left Senegal years ago. A collaborative project involving Wasis Diop, Issa Samb, Mansour Diouf, Mambety himself, and others, Hyènes is testament to an artistic avant-garde scene and offers an early synthesis of the discursive strands of postcolonial critique as well as trans-cultural appropriations and entanglements. As a parable about life in a globalized world, however, Hyènes takes its gambit far beyond the simple contrasts between modernity (here) and tradition (there), between Europe (here) and Africa (there). The film subverts such binary thinking by portraying a voracious zest for life and a killer’s cravings, the greed for power and its seductive allure.

Badou Boy 1970, 56’ (originally on 16mm stock)
Direction: Djibril Diop Mambety, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety and Inge Hirschnitz, production: Djibril Diop Mambety & Kankourama, cinematography: Baïdi Sow, music: Lalo Dramé, chansons: Christophe Colomb, editing: Andrée Blanchard, with Djara Djimbo, Moustapha Touré, Momar Thiam, Assy Dieng, Anta N’Doye, Yoni Gueye, Barraud, Gaby Diallo, Djibril Diop Mambety & Langouste, Lamine Ba, All Demba Ciss.

Hyènes / Hyenas 1992, 113’ (originally on 35mm stock)
Direction, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety based on the play “Der Besuch der alten Dame” (“The Visit”) by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, production: Pierre-Alain Meier, Alain Rozanès, cinematography: Matthias Kälin, music: Wasis Diop, editing: Siro Asteni and Loredana Cristelli, with Ami Diakhaté (Linguere Ramatou), Djibril Diop Mabety, Mansour Diouf (Dramaan Drameh), Calgou Fall (the priest), Faly Gueye (Mme Drameh), Mamadou Mahourédia Gueye (the mayor), Issa Samb (the professor).


Mambety’s last two films, Le franc and La petite vendeuse du Soleil, are parts of an unfinished trilogy of “little people’s stories” (histoires des petites gens). La petite vendeuse du Soleil was completed after Mambety’s death under the direction of the Swiss producer Silvia Voser. Funny and deeply moving, full of eccentric characters, the films trace the fine line between visions of perfect bliss and utter despair. They might also be about music—as the theme, as a narrative and elixir of life, as the focus of an analytical filmmaking practice that operates with equivocations on all levels: where “franc” means frank and honest, but also naked money, where “la petite vendeuse,” the little salesgirl, is also the child, the stunted and the shrunken, where wisdom and insanity are not mutually exclusive and the film knows more than its characters, while the characters, for their part, are more than the film reveals in sketching a few intersections between various narrative options.

Le franc 1994, 45’ (originally on 35mm stock)
Direction, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety, production: Silvia Voser / Waka Films, cinematography: Stéphan Oriach, music: Issa Cissokho, Dieye Ma Dieye, editing: Stéphan Oriach, with Demba Bâ, Dieye Ma Dieye (Marigo), and Aminata Fall (the landlady)

La petite vendeuse du Soleil / The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun, 1999, 45’ (originally on 35mm stock)
Direction, screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety, production: Waka Films / Maag Daan / Renardes Production, cinematography: Jacques Besse, music: Wasis Diop, editing: Sarah Taouss-Motton, with Lissa Baléra, Tayerou M’Baye, Oumou Samb, Moussa Baldé, Dieynaba Laam, Martin N’Gom.

All films are screened on DVD in the original versions with English subtitles.


Brought to you by vagabonding reel to real in cooperation with Portikus. With funding support from Hessische Filmförderung.

reel to real

Hessische Filmförderung




Portikus / Alte Brücke 2 / Maininsel / 60594 Frankfurt/Main
Tel: +49 69 962 4454 - 0
Fax: +49 69 962 4454 - 24


Detail from original poster for film Touki Bouki, 1973




Who and what is reel to real?

reel to real is the only film screening programme in Frankfurt on Main devoted to experimental film.
Since 2003 eight film events could be realised each year. These have been evening events focusing on one theme, or sometimes, though rarely, on a filmmaker. The majority of the films shown so far are shorts, rarely documentary and feature films. Most are experimental, avant-garde or art films and videos. Over the years, the curators have stayed true to the maxim of screening films in the original format whenever possible.
Organizing the screening setting and accommodating the differences in screening formats and film installation settings is part of the curatorial work.
reel to real also invites filmmakers, scholars and guest curators to give talks or hold introductions about films or their work. For this purpose, reel to real organizes events together with national and international film initiatives and archives.
reel to real was founded in 2003 as a film programme organized by the independent curators Kathrin Brinkmann and Marie-Hélène Gutberlet for the Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt on Main. Gaby Babić joined the curator’s collective in 2010.
Starting in 2012,
reel to real continues with independent screenings as vagabonding real to real at different locations.