Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


The Cemetery of Cinema

Director Thierno Souleymane Diallo visits his mother to ask for her blessing for the journey that he is about to embark upon. Diallo travels barefoot across his native Guinea searching for signs of the fabled Mouramani, a lost film that was completed in 1953. Mouramani, by Touré Mamadou, is said to be one of the first films directed by a black African director. It seems that everyone has heard about the film, but no one has seen it. Many believe that a copy might be found in French archives, “They have everything, after all.”

The search for Mouramani serves as a catalyst for a comprehensive dive into Guinean film culture. The people that Diallo speaks to during his trip paint a picture of a country with a rich yet largely forgotten cinematic history; a country that was once a pioneer in the development of African cinema, yet no longer seems to be aware of this. Due to political apathy and even outright hostility, archives have not been established, and old copies of films are turning to dust, left behind in abandoned, crumbling cinemas.

Perhaps it is too late to salvage the past, but Diallo still has hope for the future. He finds hope in the people he meets on his journey through Guinea, such as young art students, to whom Diallo teaches the importance of even the smallest forms of action. And who knows, maybe Mouramani can be found too, as long as someone keeps searching for it.

Oskari Lindfors (translated by Mira Sairanen)

Original Title: Au cimetière de la pellicule
Language: French, Malinke, Fulani
Subtitles: English
Length: 93 min
Age Limit: K7
Year: 2023
Production Country: France, Senegal, Guinea, Saudi Arabia

Director: Thierno Souleymane Diallo
Producer: Maud Martin, Jean-Pierre Lagrange, Marie-Louise Sarr, Alpha Amadou Djouldé Diallo
Production Company: L'image d'après, JPL Productions, Lagune productions, Le grenier des ombres
Screenplay: Thierno Souleymane Diallo 
Editing: Marianne Haroche, Aurélie Jourdan 
Cinematographer: Leïla Chaïbi, Thierno Souleymane Diallo