Touki Bouki

Director: Djibril Diop Mambety

1973, 85min.

Language: Wolof with English subtitles


Today, as thousands of young Africans are caught up in emigration to flee poverty and war, Djibril Diop Mabéty’s 1973 film is timely, magical, and fierce. To Mabéty, his homeland of Sénégal – and particularly the slums of Dakar – was still damaged by its years of French rule, plagued with a new ruling class and its own stultifying injustice. Mory (Magaye Niang) is a zebu herder, whose restless dreams sweep him and his moped (adorned with a zebu’s skull and antlers) to the capital city. There he meets a young student named Anta (Marème Niang) who shares his ambition for a stimulating new life in Paris, that “little piece of heaven,” as Josephine Baker sings on the soundtrack. Of course, tickets are expensive, and the couple’s schemes are unsuccessful, until Mory strikes gold by stealing money from an unsuspecting gay man. But even with the treasured tickets in hand, last-minute complications threaten to prevent either one – or both – of the dreamers’ chance of escape. Touki Bouki, now recognized as an inspiration to generations of African filmmakers has been lovingly restored by the World Cinema Project of Martin Scorsese, who calls it “a cinematic poem made with a raw, wild energy… it explodes one image at a time.”