The 1960s were a time of change everywhere, and that includes Bamako, the capital city of Mali, a nation only recently independent from French colonial rule. Dancing the Twist in Bamako (Twist à Bamako) is a romance fraught with the drama of political change, infused with the musical energy of that decade. Samba, a young, idealistic socialist, works toward creating a more just nation by day and dances with his girlfriend Lara to the Beach Boys, Otis Redding, and the Supremes, by night. The film’s sensibility is inspired by the vibrant images, patterns, and compositions of famed Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé. Lara’s orange silk dress and Samba’s dazzling white suit, shot against the striped backdrop of their dance club and the black and white checked dance floor they cut up — all suggest that change is coming rapidly, that life is for living.
Committed filmmaker, Robert Guédiguian’s first feature films in the 1980s, Rouge Midi, Last Summer and Til Death Do Us Part, were critically acclaimed. The public discovered him thanks to Marius and Jeannette, which won the Louis-Delluc Prize, and competed in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 1997. Among the twenty or so other films he directed are Marie-Jo and Her Two Lovers (2002), The Last Mitterand (2004), Journey to Armenia, a Search for Origins (2007), Lady Jane (2008), Army of Crime (2009), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (2011) and Don’t Tell Me the Boy Was Mad (2014), and The House by the Sea (2017).
This film projection is presented in partnership with Films on the Green, organized by the Villa Albertine, on the theme of dance.This film is also the opening feature of the Columbia University Maison Française 2023 Film Festival, Across Generations: Unveiling the Past, Embracing the Present.The festival was curated by Shanny Peer, Fanny Guex and Ilana Custos-Quatreville and produced by the Columbia Maison Française.
Additional support was provided by the Knapp Family Foundation and Villa Albertine, and by our festival co-sponsors at Columbia University: Alliance Program, Department of History, Institute of African Studies, European Institute, and Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities. The full festival program can be found HERE.