Friday, September 22, 2023

Banel e Adama / Banel & Adama

Ramata-Toulaye Sy: Banel e Adama (FR/SN 2023).

Banel e Adama [the title in the opening credits] / Banel et Adama
Nature / Female Stories / Family Ties / LoveReligion
Theme: African Express
Country: France, Senegal
Director: Ramata-Toulaye Sy
Screenplay: Ramata-Toulaye Sy
Starring: Khady Mane, Mamadou Diallo, Binta Racine Sy, Moussa Sow, Ndiabel Diallo
Production: Éric Névé, Maud Leclair-Névé, Margaux Juvénal / La Chauve-Souris, Take Shelter
Duration: 87 min
Rating: K16
Bio Rex, Love & Anarchy: Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF), 22 Sep 2023.

Kalle Kinnunen (HIFF 2023): " Cannesin kilpasarjassa ei joka vuosi nähdä esikoisohjaajien teoksia. Ranskalais-senegalilaisen Ramata-Toulaye Syn kirjoittama ja ohjaama Banel & Adama noteerattiin oitis myös tyylistään. Sy yhdistää Senegalin maaseudulla realistis-etnografista kerrontaa, romanttista komediaa, kansanperinnettä ja psykologisen trillerin keinoja. "

" Sanavalmis ja kapinallinen Banel (Khady Mane) ja hiljaisempi Adama (Mamadou Diallo) rakastuivat syvästi jo vuosia sitten. Banel joutui järjestettyyn avioliittoon Adaman vanhemman veljen kanssa, mutta tämän kuoltua traditio pakottaa todelliset rakastavaiset avioon. "

" Suhdetta uhkaa paitsi syyllisyydentunto, myös vastentahtoiselle Adamalle varattu tehtävä: hänen tulisi valmistautua kylänvanhimman rooliin. Se, joka uhmaa perinteitä, joutuu silmätikuksi, ja kun kuivuus pahenee, syy siihen sysätään Adaman niskoille. "

" Syn ja kuvaaja Amine Berradan maailma on elokuvan taikaa: kylä näyttäytyy rakastavaisten unelmien utuisena taustana, sitten painajaisena, jossa Banel saa vastaansa koko maailman. Runollista kuvakieltä on verrattu Terrence Malickin elokuviin. Yllä on ilmastokriisin varjo: taikauskoiset tavat reagoida murskaaviin vaikeuksiin voivat johtaa ainoastaan tragediaan. " Kalle Kinnunen

Quoted by HIFF 2023: Sophie Monks Kaufman: " There is a sultry elusiveness to Ramata-Toulaye Sy’s debut feature that makes it hard to articulate its subject or even its genre. Is this a riff on Romeo & Juliet, filtered through Senegalese village life? Or is it a sci-fi fable, with the mirage-like heat reflecting a slow descent into personal madness a la Lars von Trier’s Melancholia? Banel & Adama is a striking debut that puts Sy on the map as a purveyor of deceptively gorgeous visions that show flimsy desires at the mercy of the social, and literal, weather. A drought can suck dry the fiercest emotional bonds, so what use is romantic love when people are dying of heat? " Sophie Monks Kaufman, IndieWire

Quoted by HIFF 2023: Caitlin Quinlan: " Every movement, every shot is deployed with such confidence and the filmmaker draws compelling performances from both Mane, graceful even in all of Banel’s distress, and Diallo, regal yet soft in equal measure. It’s all an impressive sign of Sy’s formal rigour and deft evocation of place, but the film works on simpler terms, too — at the heart of Banel & Adama is the cosmic love story of two people who are meant to be together, no matter what it takes. " Caitlin Quinlan, Little White Lies

Subtitles: English
Distribution: Njuta Films
Print source: Njuta Films
Cinematography: Amine Berrada
Editing: Vincent Tricon
Music: Bachar Mar-Khalife
Sound: Benjamin Silvestre, Olivier Voisin
Production design: Oumar Sall
Costume design: Mariam Diop
In collaboration with Institut Francais Finlande / Think Africa / Ubuntu Film Club.

AA: An assured and original debut film by the Senegalese director Ramata-Toulaye Sy. She creates a mesmerizing tragedy set in North Senegal. The female protagonist Banel is the driving force and the active agent of change while Adama feels the pull of tradition more strongly. Banel is also the one who carries a weapon: a slingshot to kill reptiles. At times she is the aggressive and dominating partner of the couple, even turning mad with rage. They are both victims of tradition. They have always loved each other, but because of tradition, Banel had to marry Adama's older brother first.

The language is Pular, and the alphabet is Arabic: the film takes place in devout Muslim circumstances. But the Senegalese village life is still also dominated by even more ancient beliefs, customs and traditions. The young lovers want to break free but are finally overwhelmed. Are the curses that happen due to the fact that Adama refuses to become the village chief and Banel does not want children and become a housewife? I don't think so. The drought that devastates the village, both cattle and people, with many casualties, can ensue from general natural reasons, and is perhaps aggravated by climate change. Adama and Banel defy tradition but they also express hubris, which leads to nemesis in the form of a catastrophic sandstorm. Old tales of the oral tradition, transmitted by griots, carry ancient wisdom and prejudice. 

The film has been shot in 1,66 in glowing colour. It is a gorgeous visual experience, highly image-driven, at times even Imagist. The sun is a central motif and presence. Close-ups of faces are warm and tender, and long shots of landscapes put things and people into perspective. The general approach is lyrical but also visionary. We live in the here and now, and also in a moment belonging to eternity. Water is the lifeline, fishing in the river. On the other hand the drought proves mortal and endangers the whole way of life. There is an enchantment of the river. The colours turn shimmering. 

In the finale, Banel e Adama turns into a catastrophe movie and the sense of a cosmic curse reaches Biblical proportions. Even before, the air has turned yellow from the ubiquitous flying sand. "I'm scared". "I'm scared, too". Banel and Adama hug each other for the last time, standing and crying. Their home project is buried by the sandstorm that blackens the whole heaven and the cinema screen. "Banel, Banel". The weak sound of the voice disappears. The world falls apart.


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