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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Monday July 22nd 2024

Banel & Adama

from the series Movie Corner

4 out of 5 Stars

Kino Lorber, Compliments of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Festival
a photo of the author
Howard McQuitter II

Ramata-Toulaye Sy, screenwriter and director of her debut film Banel & Adama premiered the film at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2023.

Kino Lorber

Early in Banel & Adama, Banel (Khady Mane) in a soft voice, says, “Banel and Adama, Banel and Adama, Banel and Adama”, reminding herself of her love for Adama. The couple live in a small Senegalese village.
Banel and Adama (Mamadou Diallo) have an objective which is to dig out two houses buried in the heavy sands for themselves. They want to live some distance from the village as they want some independence from the village.

There are expectations in the village for the young married couple. First, the Muslim villagers hold that Banel had to marry Adama’s older brother, Yero, who later drowned in a well. The requirement then is for her to marry the younger brother Banel. This was hardly a problem for them as they loved each other since they were kids. Second, Adama is required to become chief of the village. He refuses the position as he wants to commit to his wife’s wishes by moving away. His decision to turn down becoming chief brings disapproval from the other villagers. Banel, who is energetic and outspoken, evokes the ire from her mother and others in the village as they see her flouting certain traditions.

Banel & Adama

Cast: Khady Mane (Banel), Mamadou Diallo (Adama), Binta Racine Sy (The Mother), Ndiabel Diallo (Coudy), Oumar Samba Dia (Abou Dia), Amadou Ndiaye (Malik), Amadou Hady Sall (Uncle # 1), Cherif Diallo (Uncle # 2), Nima Ba (Djibril), Amadou Kane Sylla (Omar), Sawdatou Sy (Marie).
Director: Ramata-Toulaye Sy.
Screenwriter: Ramata-Toulaye Sy.
Cinematography: Amine Berrada.
Composer: Bachar Mar-Khalife.
Country: Senegal, France, Mali.
Language: Pulaar.
Running time: 87 minutes.

Soon drastic measures have to be taken as the continuous scorching heat and drifting winds put the village in serious jeopardy. Stark scenes of dead animals and dying villagers bring a necessary reality to the village.

As the men go out to inspect the dire circumstances facing the villages, Adama appears less time on the screen. Khady Mane and Mamadou Diallo give gripping performances. The ending is underwhelming at best, and lazily tacked on at worst.

Howard McQuitter II is a longtime movie critic. He has been reviewing movies for the alley since 2002.

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