Cannes 2019: First Black Woman Director Competes in Main Category

Director Mati Diop is the first black woman to win the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival (2019). (Photo: IMDB)

Writing for the New York Times, film critic Manohla Dargis discusses the politics of identity surrounding Mati Diop, the first black woman director to compete in the main category at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. Netflix acquired worldwide rights (excluding China, Benelux, Switzerland, Russia, France) to the French-Senegalese filmmaker’s feature debut, ‘Atlantics” which premiered at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, winning the Grand Prix.

Diop, 36, made the film, which explores the experiences of women left behind in Senegal by men leaving in hopes of finding a better life in Europe. Dargis writes:

“Diop, who identifies as French-Senegalese, has the distinction of being the first black woman director in the festival’s main competition, and speaks sensitively about the complexities of identity. In an interview on Friday, she traced the genesis of ‘Atlantics’ to a decade earlier, during a mass exodus out of Senegal, primarily to Spain. ‘At the time,’ she said, ‘I had spent 10 years without going to Senegal.’ It was a painful period, she said, and the exodus and her own burgeoning desires to become a filmmaker helped create what she described as a collision. ‘My cinematic research was very connected to the re-exploration of my African identity.’

Check out Diop’s interview (in French) below with France 24:

Read Dargis’ entire article at the New York Times.

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