With two films in competition, a handful of others scattered in the parallel selections and two members of the jury from the continent, Africa has never been so present at Cannes. An "artistic emulation" carried by a new generation of filmmakers.
A second Palme d'or for this continent usually under-represented in Cannes and other 7th art festivals? "The competition is very, very tough," said the youngest of the competition, Ramata-Toulaye Sy, to AFP, without risking further comment.
Born in France -- where she grew up -- to Senegalese parents, she delivered a lyrical debut feature at Cannes about the emancipation of a Fulani woman.
The other director from the continent in the running for the Palme is the Tunisian Kaouther Ben Hania, revealed to the general public thanks to her thriller on a rape victim "La belle et la meute", presented at Cannes in 2017.
Both can succeed the Algerian Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, Palme d'or in 1975 with "Chronicle of the ember years". He is to date the only African filmmaker to have received the supreme distinction on the Croisette.
Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Cameroon, Sudan... Films from Africa are in full light.
"We are facing the arrival of a new generation, better trained and who has things to say," said Kaouther Ben Hania to AFP. "There is a real artistic emulation", completes the Moroccan Kamal Lazraq.
"Les meutes", his first feature film which follows the crazy night during which a father and his son try to get rid of a man's body, was presented in the Official Selection, in the Un certain regard category.
Last year, his compatriot Maryam Touzani -- member of the jury this year -- delivered a sumptuous feature film on the taboo of homosexuality in the Cherifian kingdom. A film that had been presented in the same section.
At the Quinzaine des cinéastes, another parallel section of the Festival, the film "Déserts" by Faouzi Bensaïdi, a sort of contemplative western shot in the Rif, left no one indifferent.
"Morocco has been doing a real job of supporting film production for years," says Kamal Lazraq. Same tone with Ramata-Toulaye Sy, who praised the Senegalese government's support for his film.
For others, financial and logistical support is not always there, as Kaouther Ben Hania publicly said in 2021.
Can we speak of a breakthrough in African cinema? No, replies to AFP the Malian filmmaker (Carrosse d'or this year) Souleymane Cissé. "African films have always existed but have never been highlighted", he maintains.
"African production is rich and varied, it is time to take an interest in it", he continues, denouncing the "contempt" of Westerners. "It's up to distributors to get African films," says Ramata-Toulaye Sy, who teaches cinema in Dakar. "They have always been there, in front of us," she says.
All the filmmakers contacted by AFP say they share the same ambition: to make films anchored in Africa but with "universal reach".
Still, the path is often strewn with pitfalls: "In our region, culture is disturbing," says Sudanese Mohamed Kordofani, for whom the shooting of his first feature film "Goodbye Julia" (presented in the Official Selection) was " very complicated".
"Shooting in an unstable country, where there are demonstrations and riots, is not easy. We are quickly caught up in the reality of our countries".
22/05/2023 16:01:38 - Cannes (AFP) - © 2023 AFP