The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun follows Sili, a girl traversing Dakar’s many obstacles with her crutches. After starting to work as a newspaper vendor, she quickly runs afoul of territorial boys who see her as a competitor. Djibril Diop Mambéty’s final film is handled with gentle lightness and grace, providing incontrovertible evidence of his place not only as a master of African cinema, but as a pivotal figure in the history of cinema. — Herb Shellenberger

“Cinema was born in Africa, because the image itself was born in Africa. The instruments, yes, are European, but the creative necessity and rationale exist in our oral tradition. As I always tell the children, in order to make a film, you must only close your eyes and see the images. Open your eyes, and the film is there. I want these children to understand that Africa is a land of images, not only because images of African masks revolutionized art throughout the world but as a result, simply and paradoxically, of oral tradition. Oral tradition is a tradition of images. What is said is stronger than what is written; the word addresses itself to the imagination, not the ear. Imagination creates the image and the image creates cinema, so we are in direct lineage as cinema’s parents.” —Djibril Diop Mambéty in conversation with Nwachucwu Frank Ukadike, “Transition 78” n. 2, 1999

Djibril Diop Mambéty

Djibril Diop Mambéty (1945–1998) was a Senegalese film director, actor, orator, composer and poet. Though he made only two feature films and five short films, they all received international acclaim for their original and experimental cinematic technique and non-linear, unconventional narrative styles.

In 1973, Mambéty released his masterpiece Touki Bouki, a tour de force of narrative and aesthetic innovation. The film, which has been hailed as a classic of African cinema and restored by the World Cinema Project, received the International Critics Award at the Cannes Film Festival and Special Jury Award at the Moscow Film Festival. After an almost 20 year break in filmmaking, Mambéty returned to the limelight with Hyènes (1992), an adaptation of the Swiss-German writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s satirical play 'The Visit' that transposed the story to Colobane, the town where Mambéty was born. His final two films—the shorts Le Franc (1994) and The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun (1999)—form part of Contes des Petites Gens (Tales of Little People), a trilogy that remained uncompleted after Mambéty died in 1998.


The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun (La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil, 1998), The Franc (Le Franc, 1995), Hyenas (Hyènes, 1992), Let's Talk, Grandmother (Parlons Grand-mère, 1989), Touki Bouki (1973), Badou Boy (1970), City of Contrasts (Contras’ City, 1969)