THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN

La petite vendeuse du soleil

 (Djibril Diop Mambety, Senegal/Switzerland/France, 1999) 45 minutes

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN

Director: Djibril Diop Mambety
Screenplay: Djibril Diop Mambety
Photography: Jacques Bess
Editor: Sarah Taouss-Matton
Music: Wasis Diop
Lissa Balera
Tairou M'Baye
Oumou Samb
Moussa Balde
Dienaba Laam
Martin N'Gom

Reviews and notes

This wonderful short film by Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambety is cause for both celebration and great sadness. It's a joyous, beautifully made testament to pluck and perseverance under the direst circumstances, but also the last film Mambety completed before his untimely death in 1998.

Undaunted by the bad leg that leaves her dependent on a pair of bright red crutches, 12-year-old Sili Laam (Lissa Balera) usually leaves her shanty-town home on the outskirts of Dakar to beg for money alongside her blind grandmother (Dieynaba Laam) in the marketplace. But Sili's ambitious, and once she notices the aggressive newspaper boys shoving one another out of the way to hawk Le Soleil (The Sun) or its rival Le Sud, Sili considers a career move. Undaunted by her gender - or her leg - she gets a load of newspapers and fearlessly gets to work, but soon runs afoul of the other vendors, who claim she's invading their turf.

The world of this unassuming but powerful little film, originally conceived as the second part of Mambety's planned "Tales of Little People" trilogy (the first part, Le Franc, was finished in 1994), is the world of Dakar's street people. Not just the bullying newsboys and beggars, but also the wheelchair-bound boy (Moussa Balde) with a boom-box whose radio he'll play for you - for a small fee. Mambety brings all this to life without a trace of sentimentality, but with the utmost empathy, admiration and, most of all, respect for those who may be downtrodden, but never helpless. With an eye for striking settings - like the almost surreal landscape of empty refrigerators outside an appliance vendor's - and complex color arrangements, Mambety finds beauty and a certain aesthetic order amid the grinding poverty and riotous sounds and colors of his native city.
- Ken Fox, TV Guide

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