Samba Gadjigo & Jason Silverman: Sembene - Stories, Film, Culture | Talks at Google
I. Am. Thrilled. And super excited, to, be your moderator. Here, today for just today's heart today's. Talk is about an very, interesting, man a man. Whom maybe, maybe. Many of you don't know about this one sunburn, the. Father of African, cinema. So. Someone. Spent about 50, plus, years of his life. Using. His pan in, his camera, to tell African, story today. Here we have Samba. Professor. Glad, you go and Jason. To, help, us learn more about salmon, what, what he was about and most importantly, one of the things that you guys are doing right now with, someone across Africa, Mike, so. Professor. If I may say but, but. Recently that's. All the polarizer sorry, what a very bad feeling I guess speaking in Fulani hey so. Jason, I heard that you speak also small of I. Saw. Some so, I'm super excited we have some really great conversations, and we will leave 15. Or 10 minutes at the end for some Q&A. But. Professor before we can dive into. Salmon. And, his. Voice I want you to take a minute or two maybe, few, minutes to learn a bit more about you, what, was it like growing up in Senegal, your. Childhood. Tell. Us why, you came from okay. Thank you who's man and thank you all for being here of, course my name is Sam baggage eagle-like Osman, I came. From Senegal, I. Grew, up in a small village called, Khedira, right, at the border between, Mali and Senegal, now. This. Was, before. Independence, in, 1960. So I grew up in the late 50s. And. That I'm really our village. Was completely. Cut. Off from the rest of the world and. I. Grew. Up fishing. Hunting. And, farming. It, might sound, very very romantic and it was at the time because it was a free. Childhood. So. We really, found. What we ate and we ate only what we what, we found so I grew up in that environment, roaming. Around and really and listening. To stories from our elders that is, pretty amazing so, what, kind of activities, did you do growing up in. Kerala. Well, after, all day. Of farming, of fishing, we, had a very practical, form. Of education, it was not education, derived, from. Books it. Was education, derived from examples. If, you are male you go with your father to the field if you are female II go with, your mother, so we were divided we learned by experience by, as I said way, into the field going fishing, and going farming, and listening. Mostly the most important, because. It was at the time when really. There was no, newspapers. There. Was no television, I saw my first movie. When I was 12, and also. My. First radio broadcast literally. When I was 10. So. The only stories, really, I heard where stories told by my grandmother, and the, stories, told by elders, in the village so. Those stories, shaped. My perception, of myself. Shaped. My perception, of the, outside world, and also, shaped my, relationship. With, that world so. I could say I was very. Happy. No. Credit card it was good it was a great childhood. So. Tell. Us about the stories that you mama. Yeah. As I said we did not really learn from, books. Because. If you look at many parts, of the African continent, there. Were oral, cultures. Until. The, advent of, Islam. And. Colonization. There was no writing. So. Everything. Was, transmitted. Orally so. How, do you, accumulate. Knowledge knowing, then there, is no technology, to archiving knowledge it was by transmission. From, word-of-mouth, those. Stories, to teach you for it was about honesty that would tell you a story, about honesty, to scare. You to death they, would tell you about horror, stories, about. Lions. About elephants, and so on so forth and those stories without you really. Thinking about it there is a shaping, your, worldview like, an. American, kid before. Being put to bed and you learn about we need to prove that's. How you. Have, your world shapes also tides of stories that we will be shaped in my life many, spotty incredible, so. Eventually. You left that place right how. Did you live in how I, left. My village at, age twelve that, was really the cutting of the umbilical cord so to speak metaphorically, speaking, because. In my own area. About. 400, miles away there was no high school. So. I was 12. There. Was a national exam. Organized, like it's still organized, in Senegal and many African countries and, they, select what. I would call a happy few to take them to high school so there were two of us who a12 a13. Members. That was also my first time to board a train at. Night. To. Go on a 14-hour. Ride. At. 12, and it, was not just. A geographical. Displacement. It was psychological. It is emotional. Because, I was living my region, where we spoke Fulani and I, was going to another region called the sandwi where. They spoke wore off, understand. We was really the first city, that was created, by, the French, who. First to colonize Algeria. And from, Algeria, went down south, for Senegal, was the first really in sub-saharan.
African To be colonized, so I went from, a rural village where, the. World stopped, at the border of the village and then I went 400. Miles to another, area whose language, I did not even speak. So. It was thrilling. Where, I boarded the plane I was scared, to death when I landed in that platform I. Look around nothing, was family. So. That's when I went to send you at age 12, Wow, that, is pretty. Incredible so. Here, you are 12. Years old in a new city away. From home and to this. I mean I already matter like the big city like San Luis back then what. Was it like to be entrepreneurs, or far. Away from home totally. Disconnected from your family. And two, distinct world yeah, you know when they announce the result of the exam of course I was very very, happy I mean who is who. Is not the bush, boy would dream of going into the city but. Then very very quickly the thrill, was. Followed. As I told you is I was really, scared, first. It was cold because. Senri is in the north, second. I had never seen so many cars in my life, so. It was in a village everybody, knows everybody. I remember, buying plane when. It is means time nobody's, going to look for you because they know if you are not in this house here in the other house so there was a tight. Communal. Link among us and now, I'm going to a city where you have get, liberalization, I mean the tribes, are not there the, connections, are not there and it, was my introduction, to an. Individualistic. Culture, because. The city was already an open, door to the, Western world. And I had to learn everything from, scratch. Of course I did not have the safety, of my, grandmother, being next to me so, you grow up really. Fast. At. Age, 12, we learn a sense of responsibility and taking, care of yourself, Wow. So, you. Don't speak all of them when you arrive in Sandwich so you get to you know you had to adjust speaking. Wolof to a different culture and then going. To school in serviced. Can you tell us a little bit what was high school like oh yeah, it was studying. I still remember getting there it, was a school where I would say it's for elite, who were selected from all the regions so. We all find ourselves there, is of course a big. Head thinking were the best and bright in the world, this. Image still sticks, in my mind walking into my first French classroom, and the. Thing that it was a French woman who was going to be my teacher, until. Age 12, I had never shared. Four, walls, with a white person that was my first. Time and, second. I had, the French teacher who. Was from Marseille I don't know if he ever heard someone, from. Marseille speak instead. Of saying the pie bread, that the penny so, it was compa, I was completely, lost.
And, Then. We were forced to read the. French classics, in. Self, learning. About ourselves not, only do you have to master, the French language you, have to read more, year Baljit, and so on so forth so without. Realizing. It we were being really, brain. Washed, and. At. Age. 14, or 16 if you woke me up in, the middle of the night I could. Recite. The miserable. Chapters. Of the paragraphs. Of limiter on a pergola or whatever and, if. You ask me someone what are you and, very. Seriously, I will tell you I am, French. Because. The text books we, read. Drilled. In our head that the only culture, worth talking about is. The, French culture. The, only literature. Was talking about his, French literature because the conceit of literature, that. Which that is only written, meaning. Oral literature was that considered, as being literature. So. At age, 16. I was, completely, gone. Not only geographically, from my village but. I was. Culturally. And I like to use an image saying at, age, 16 and I learned that word when I came to the ninth face an Oreo cookie meaning. To be black in the outside, and white in the inside culturally. That's, basically, what I had become at. Age 16. Complete. Stranger. From. My village and a, complete, stranger, into that new culture neither. One nor, the other and both, at the center so, that how. My situation was at age 16, how, so, you went to some really deep I similarly say you to this French culture, so then, what happened. It. Was I don't, know if you have ever experienced. This, having. And one, single encounter, one. Day that, completely, changed your life, well. For me it happened through a book. Someone. Gave me a first, novel. Written. By, a, Senegalese. The. Title, is labuda. By Audigier, in, French of course because, the work, was written in French but. There was a subtitle. That says. Bantam, mommy yell Bantam. A meal is in wall of which is a national, language of Senegal that was, the first shock, to. See a, language. Of Senegal, or book written by a Senegalese, with, the tap title in an African, language that. Was one. Second. All the. Free in all the French text, books we read, if. Africa. Was at all, mentioned. Africans. Were. Not shown in their humanity. Africa. Was at the periphery, of the world and the. White colonizer, was the. Eternal. Winner, and black. Folks were losers. And in that novel. Really. Was a recreation. Of an, event. That happened in West Africa, in 1947. When, the first time after the war of course there was some political awakening, and the. Trade unions, were starting, really to gain consciousness of, their rights so the novel portrays, the, first Union strike. Between. Senegal and Mali and guess, what. One. Of the character's name was someone, like, me that was fifth time and, the. Second, these. Black workers, not. Only organized. Themselves. Resisted. Against the white colonizers. But. They want, this. Was the first time I see a black person winning. Anything or. Even, being at the center, of, narrative. For. Me it's excuse. Me using this world I mean all of a sudden sixteen-year-old. Aspiring. To be French and that completely, lose my. Political. Virginity, if I can use that word and I realized, that literature. Is not innocent of that literature, is political, and I. Discovered, that yes. You can be a black person you are not better than anybody but nobody, is better than you are and all of a sudden you.
Discover Your. Humanity, and it, gives you a certain agency. And that. Happened. Exact mental fracture. Happened to me at age, 16, and it happened with, a book and that book actually was. Written by. Some man, to. Whom I devoted the rest of my scholarship, wow. That's pretty amazing, I highly, recommend the book Ali Bhutto Khadija, by Wisconsin ban definitely, if you haven't read it yet so. So, professor, on what happened what happened after, you discover, somebody so, you're. Here now in the u.s. yes, well. I. Was, aspiring in my generation, born in the mid 50s, of course we'll go to the University, or the dream was. To have an MBA I did not even know what it was but everybody, was going into the us to do MBA I wanted to do beauty too. But. That sits. As I told you that's, bitter would have planted or a little seed in my mind but I really, I. Go. Through the University in Senegal, you, could not find that book anywhere, it was in the curriculum. The. Same way I think if you were in from, Ghana or you are from Nigeria you. Are more likely, to read about Shakespeare, than to read about holy so Inca or. Read. Any other Africa read but I arrived in the University. Of Illinois I, go. To the library and, then, what do I discover, they had all books. Written by Samba. They. Had all films. Made, by sunburn, which you could not find in any African, library. So. He, is 26. Year old coming to the United States I hardly spoke any, any English, I wanted, to be an NBA NBA, and, I discovered, these things all of a sudden another change. No, more NBA I'm, going to do African Studies are. You crazy you are going to the United State instead of looking for money you are looking for African Studies said. Yes, so. I did African, Studies I did, my PhD in, African Studies and then devoted, all the rest of my career doing research on Sunday. It's. Pretty cool so, many. Many years later. You. Made a movie about salmon, oh you. Both made a movie about salmon, so, Jason. Can you tell, us what, is this movie about somebody. Well, when, we started making the movie we decided, right away it was gonna be a story about storytelling. About. The power of storytelling and, about. How. You. Know a question who gets to tell the stories that define us and Sam. Ben is a really remarkable figure, because. He. Decided. That he was gonna restore, African. Stories his his own biography is an incredible, story which Samba knows much. About yes. Um why. Did I decide to do something but, the in a nutshell I'll call him I call Sam, man an. Ordinary. Man who, did extraordinary things. And, there. Was so many connection like Sam been a bit like me Sam ban came from a small. Village I came. From a family of wood carvers, Sam. Where was the son of a fisherman but, I think the similarities stop, the very because at, age, 213, he, beat his school teacher who was French and was expelled, from school. So. A third. Grade drop. Out, became. A master he, started going into construction, work then. During World War Two like many Africans, he was forcefully. Enrolled. Into the. French colonial infantry. Unit you need to go fight for the, liberation of France. After. The war he. Find himself in, Marseille as a dock worker at, no if you have was ever seen or dockworker, like when the ship arrived at, the time they did not have all these containers, so. It was human, being lifting, these. Two hundred pound bags and putting, them in tracks so Sam Ben did, that and, in. 1951. While doing that he broke his back born, while. He was at the hospital during. Six months, he. Studied reading, he. Discovered, literature, and all, of a sudden like. A Eureka moment my. God, I read all these, books I, read. Richard. Wright who talked about Americans, nobody.
Is Talking about the. African, working class, nobody. Is talking about the, African farmers. Nobody. Is talking about the, African women well. I am going to, teach myself how to write in, order, to be the. Voice of the voiceless and, he. Made it happen. Incredible. Can. You tell us a little bit you know more, like what, he, was. About you know and if, there was like one. Or three things you wanted us know what's a man what, just would be what. He's, a unique, filmmaker, for, someone who has grown up of course in the United States you. There. Is a new movie that comes out let's take four it's a lot Panthers. The. Next day you have articles, in the New York Times the first thing I talk about the success at the box office. Meaning. Money how. Profitable in the film well. Sam ban made films, no, foreign today yes entertainment. Of course but. He conceived, of them as a, replacement, for, the African, traditional, storytellers. Who have been wiped out. By, the colonial, and range so. His films, and this, is a direct quote is, an. Evening. School, to, educate to. The African masses, I think. To give you an idea and outlook of Samba and how is different, from your, average filmmaker. Being, African, in, Indian. Or Nigerian, he had the big poster, at his study at home with. Opposite. The. Father of the, Soviet revolution and there, was a caption, an, artist. Should, make money in order. To live and walk, but. Never live. And work in order, to make money. It's. Fascinating. At the time when money. Is driving, the world of. This individual, saying I'm going, to use my work my. Written work to fight for, African, political. And cultural, liberation. For me at least I think that is what is unique about Zambia, the coat that opens our film is if. Africa. Loses its stories Africa, will disappear, and so he spent 50, years trying, to restore or reclaim these stories for Africa wow, that's pretty cool and he taught himself how to make movies I mean there was no infrastructure, when. He arrived back in Senegal, from Marseilles there was no trained crew there, was no funding. He. Had to figure everything out from, scratch basically. A lot of times there's not electricity, and. And. He had to invent the African, cinematic. Form because no one was using movies, to tell African stories so, he did that all himself after teaching himself how to write and writing three, successful, novels, he was something of a celebrity, in France before he left the, dock. Worker who wrote novels and, then he took that fame and left it behind and moved back to Senegal, and found. A camera and started shooting yeah actually that is a thinker, something, to Arab or in that yes as Jason said of course between. 1956. And 1960. Had written three. Novels and, all. The novels were really to participate, in the liberation of Africa, then, he arrives in Senegal, 1960. He discovered, oh my god I wrote. These books in French and. 82%. Of the Senegalese, do, not read in French so. Therefore it's really talking to a wall, well. Just when as Jason, said well I'm going to try to find, another medium, which, is going to reconcile, me with African, people how can I talk to, the, Senegalese, farmer, how can I talk to the Senegalese, fishermen well, I think the best way to do it is to use the technology, of filmmaking. So. That's when again, as Jason said he, decided he, was I think. 42. Sell to the Soviet Union and to teach himself how to make films just. So that he can reconnect, with the, African people that is impressive, so salmon. Has a wider, transform. As a filmmaker, so, how, hard was it for him back then to make his first movie in Senegal well, I think jason has started touching on that he, arrived in Senegal. Nobody. Had, made a, film, before and, my amigo, yeah it is actually illegal because, the French and the. British had, a very, early on understood, the. Subversive. Nature, of filmmaking, that. Really. The camera was, a weapon. They. Or the same way they had to realize that the, pen was a weapon so, for instance here in the history of African. American slavery I mean they were prohibited even from reading. Or writing. Because. The barrel of the pen was, like the barrel of the gun basically. So. The French legislation.
Issued. A decree, no. African, is allowed to pick up a camera from. 1945. To 1960. To, portray, it or, people, so it was prohibited. So. It was criminalized. So. Sam ban came back no. Money he. Had an old 16. Millimeter, camera which he was given. Nobody. Since nobody had made money in Senegal of course there was no film industry, no. Distribution channels, no. Actors. What. Did Sam ban do is at all the camera he, went in the street his. Friends became his actors family. Members become his, crew and he. Literally was. Single-handedly. With. His bare hands he invented, African cinema in, 1963. Everybody. Who makes a film today, in Africa, has, followed, in the footsteps of, Sunday. So. If. We look at his work between 1960. To 22 2004. He. Made about 9 feature films. Can. You tell us a little bit more about, those. Films, the teams and what issues, salmon. Was dealing with yeah, I'll let. D-file. Decide if that may be less than Jason elaborate, on that I mean yes you right he his, filmography was, stunning. Within. The context of Africa, I know in the United States that people who make a film every other year and it's. Very heroic. No. Continent, when there is no industry, there is non funding, there's, no state support, to make even, one feature film somebody made nine and. A. Handful of short. Films and, of. Course I cannot it would take a semester. Seminar, to get it into all those worlds but I think that he. Dealt, with all issues. Africa, is facing, but, I think there are two three themes that, could help structure. The, diversity. Of those themes he dealt with, first. It is African independence. Because. Starting the 19th century. 1885. The, continent, was divided. Among Western, powers what they called the sharing, of the, African cake in Berlin, so. England. Friends. Portugal. Shared, the, continent, for sunburn the first thing was, to fight for political independence. Like our political leaders, did like, koma koma Kwame, Nkrumah in Ghana for instance, so. He wanted to do in literature, and film what those people were doing so, political, independence, is the first tip. But. Someone was also one of those artists, who convinced. That the. Only possible, survival. For. The continent, at. Least after independence. Was, justice. Within each of the, states. Liberation. Of woman liberation. Of the marginalized, the, sharing, of justice. And so on so that is a second so you have the first which is independent the second, which is justice. Actually, he calls it socialism, because, it's convinced that capitalists. We will never liberate, Africa but that it is social, and the third element which actually. He inherited. From luminaries. Like Dubois chrome increments. So what, the reunification. Of a continent. That was cut into pieces by the colonial divide. So. Three themes independence. Justice. And pan-africanism. Though, that the three major. Themes, whatever film you take I think those are the current that, are running I don't know if you could address any of the individual, film, abuse.
Of Power I mean he was very, a, lot, of his films deal, with corruption and. And. So, a lot of them were banned because. They. Offended, the leadership. Yeah. I think that's that covers, it well he also wanted to restore. Or. Update. Oral. History and turn, it into a new modern, medium, so his films were really inventive. Formally. And technically. - yeah, he's, the first one I mean he made his first three films I think in in, French, but. Then Revolution, in 1968. He, started making films in African. Languages, he's the first ever to make a film in Wolof and. Now you, go to Ghana go, to Nigeria, you go to Burkina Faso 90%. Of the people are making their films into, African, languages, so which really helps to reconnect. The African artist with the African. Public and that is also something that was initiated, by my son. So. The. Foundation, also with your project, salmon that was Africa, he, went to a great lengths to get that work known into. The world what. Is this project about can you tell us about salmon, of course Africa, what is it about yeah. We talked about some men having made nine films it was very very heroic. But. The sad reality and, this is not only sunburned, the sad reality that is easier. To find or novel. Written. By an African, or a film, made. By another is easier, to see it in Seattle Washington in. London, in Paris, or in Toronto, than to see it in Africa itself. So. Our stories, were taken away from us before independence, weary, appropriate. Those stories, guess. What that he is sleeping in the in the Western libraries. You. You, could spend six you know this year Senegal, is like you could spend six month in Dakar what without seeing one, single, Senegalese, film. So. That's why Jason and I decided, well how can we be innovative. Of course we are always broke, we don't have money to do it we, volunteered, for ten years to do this kind of work Jason and I decided okay let's find, a way for, a program, or project which would allow, us. At. Least symbolically, to start with to, give back those stories, to African, so we labeled it salmon across Africa. We. Studied it in. 2017. On the 10th anniversary of cements, passing. We. Took our, documentary. Got. Some funding from the Ford Foundation, we. Flew back to Senegal, and we, gave micro, grants, to. Different localities. Actually, not only Senegal, we gave money to 38. African, countries and we, sent free, copies of our films, and, in. 72, hours one, weekend. 38. African, countries were able to see some bad thing. So. That's what we call of course. Sunburn across, Africa, but as summer as Jason. Can elaborate, for, assemble is only a stepping stone to, do more. Not. Only to show our documentary, but, to show some bands films but also to show all the African, African. Films yeah the project was a symbolic one we. Basically. Reached out to our context. And. Across. The continent and said would you like to show the, film in any way you, would like to most of the cultural, programming, here. And in. Developing. Countries, is top-down. Programming. We're an NGO, we'll decide. What. To show or what to share how, to show it and they'll spend substantial. Money. To do that, this was the opposite we just gave, funds. And the resources, to communities, to educators. You. Know. There. Was cafes. And, Johannesburg, and. Elementary. Schools in Cameroon, a military. Camp. Churches. A, book, club in rural Rwanda. Whoever. Thought, that these stories could be useful to their community and was, motivated, to share, these stories we, gave them the films including some of some bands films, money. They would need sometimes for a generator, some. Of the screenings were during, the winter so. They would need blankets and and, fireplaces. Some, from marketing. So. They, would figure out how to do it and they did it and over the three. Years we've done it I think there's been. 400. Public. Screenings, we've. Done broadcast. Of. The films across the continent, free, streams of the films across the continent, and. The response has been incredible people, are hungry for these. Stories and you. Know and so, we feel like there's a there's a way to do this in a bigger bolder way. Awesome, so, looking, at the four buildings, people in. This wall I meant the seven point seven billions four billion of a mile considered to be voiceless, how. Do you see this project, help. Close the gap and I'd watch this issue like. Some enjoyed bringing, voice back to this voiceless. Yeah. Obvious. Against, Jason, has studied talking about that I mean what we did was only symbolic because, we did not have all the resources all we had was. Really our vision and. Concerned. Citizens out there of the world out there who gave at the money so our vision, is really to. Create. To. Have the resources to, be, able on, a daily. Basis, to make those stories, available, to the African people.
So. Open. To any kind of partnership. To any kind of support. Because. Those stories here's a Senegalese. Stories yes they're African, stories but, freedom is not an African story it is a universal. Story. Liberation. Of the oppressed, is not Senegalese, I mean it's universal. So, I think, our vision, is. To reach a level where those, stories. Can cross borders. Create. A synergy and create, a dialogue, among cultures, I mean we we live in a media monoculture. And you, know when you go back to Khedira you see there's. Not people telling stories around the fire anymore, there's people watching western, TV. And Brazilian, telenovelas. And. And. That's a loss for everybody it's, a loss that these stories don't exist, that. Sanben stories are not accessible in Africa and elsewhere that, I'm not able to see them oftentimes, because, I'm enriched it deepened by these stories so. The question is is how can we leverage. New, technologies. To. Create. More diversity, in our global, media. Environment, and, sanben. Is a great example of someone who. Did. It by any means necessary I, mean it was really hard to do what he did working. With 16 35 millimeter film, in Africa, is like. Samba said a heroic, endeavor. But today it's not that difficult to do I mean anyone, with a cell phone and has a camera can make a movie and upload. It to YouTube so there's a way in which we. Can use new technologies, to, share. Stories. That come from the grassroots that, come from. Indigenous. Communities. And. But. It's scattershot at this point so the question becomes how do you organize all that energy, in such a way that people have access on a continuous, basis people can use these. Stories, to, knit together, communities. That have been split. Apart by. Globalism. And you. Know these are the questions that that this, project, got, us thinking about ya. Know it's, very fascinating the first time I heard about this project I was on, a transatlantic, flight going. Back home to. See my mom and I sat next to Samba and he. Shows me the work he was doing and, I saw the potential impact around. It it's, not like you, do have some challenges and scaling up just project and what. I'm hearing is this is an area that technology, could help alright, could, you tell us more about your challenges, and maybe what, is needed to scale up this. Initiative well, I mean Sam is right this is a kid table project Samba, works at his kitchen table in. South. Hadley Massachusetts I, might work on my kitchen table at Santa Fe New Mexico and we've.
Been Able to do this and and the. Thing that energizes. Us is the response, from the communities, to. The opportunity. To share these stories with, their communities, and and. So. The question becomes how. Can it become something that's that's sustainable, and. How. Can we reach more people, we, reached a lot of people with a little bit of money. Can, we, find ways to make, these, stories available, on a continuous, basis can there be a library, of stories that's available can. We create. Events. That are larger, and scale that can reach more people, and. The questions and how to do that involve. Just. The basic, technological, questions, how do we store this material, how do we how do we share and how do we protect. It from how, do we protect the copyright, of this material. Marketing. Questions how do we reach all of these audience, and of course resource questions how do we fund it so it's it's continuous. Yeah. So. I've been going at it for a while I think this is a good stopping point now that we stick into the technology part, and, the problem so I'm gonna open it up for some Q&A some questions for our audience so. Thank you first of all. Going. Back to when you were talking about the. Community. Feel growing. Up and how, that's different from like. The very individual, way that we live today is. There. In your opinion a way to recapture, some of this given. The, way we live and that. Is not really gonna stop I. Feel. Myself wanting, some of that I just, don't know what. We can do. That's. A very interesting, question under sunburn and I travel the world we get that question all the time how do we really. Create is, this kind of idyllic past. Well. Some, bands answer under my own answer, is that a. River. Never flows back to its source I. Think. We cannot. We should not even, it's not even desirable, that we reinvent. The African past but how can we take, what. Is valuable, in that past. Combine. It with something. New and create a new Africa. Which. Would be a synthesis. Semiosis. Of, our. Dad our dialogue, with the rest of the world there. Is no way you can go back to my village recreate, my village under it create the circumstances, under which I, grew. Up but. There are certain values I, think. That. Could. Taint. That could determine our modernity. Family. Collective. Interest. For answers, communality. We. Appropriating. Our stories. I am not thinking we can bring back the Greece who have died about, 100. Years but, how can we use the camera and the pen to, unearth those. Stories, and to, make them count, not. Exotic ism just. Something at the margin but, how can those values, can, help Africans. Confront. The, modern world. Just. One example in, terms of languages, you go, to Nigeria. You. Go to Liberia, you, go to Ghana today, people. Speak their national, languages, but, only Western. Languages, are official, languages. Language. Of Education language. Of trade language. Of diplomacy, meaning. Than the majority. Of the languages, are, minority. Languages, when you come to giving agency, to people if you want to succeed today in Africa you have to know English after, know French after how, can we change that situation use. Our own languages. To, create our own modernity. It is, doable. It's, a matter of political will. Some. Men did show it by making films in war of right.
I Equate. ARMA has done it by writing a beautiful, novel the beautiful, ones are not yet born how. Can you in Kenya, a movie with Django which is here at all, started, writing books in Kikuyu. Boubacar. Buddha's job is writing books in water so, those are things I think we can take from the past. Revalorisé. Them, and use. Them for our survival. Not only survival, for us to thrive in, that modern world but Africa of the past is not going to come back because. Water, doesn't flow back to its source I think. It's important to recognize. That we've been programmed, to. Be individualistic. And, separate, ourselves from our community, I mean that's one thing that. Western. Media does to us I mean every time we watch a movie. There's. A superhero. Who's saving the world on our behalf and no. Superhero, has, ever saved, the world it's always been collective, action, that's that's, made, positive change in the world there's, no Hollywood. Films about celebrating. Collective action I mean, very few and. So. We are we're, taught that we're at, our best when we're on our own and it's. You, know Sam Ben's films. Always. Celebrated. The collective, and celebrated, the community people did things together when when change was made and I. Don't think, that's atypical I think a lot of films, outside of the. Commodity, culture are made and stories. Are told that celebrate. Us working together and, so. I think it's important to recognize, how. Our brains have programmed, us to behave, the way that we behave. Is. That address, the question yeah thank you I mean my my. Father's. From Jamaica so I I hear, stories of how he grew up which, are similar in. A village very tight-knit I. Don't, have kids yet but you, know I hope to so. It's a big question for me you know how can I take. Like you're saying the essence and at. Least mold. That into you, know the reality that I that, I'm a part of today, the. Google mission, is inspiring, to me you, know the idea that we make information. Available. And accessible I, think, Sam Ben would have approved of that mission. You. Know the idea was there. Are stories. That are lost and and and buried, and they need to be unearthed, and shared if. We, are gonna connect. With each other and make real progress.
So. You mentioned of somebody's movies, who are about. Independent. Social, justice. When, Africanism and I, think, those same themes still. Exist today and just, in different forms my, question is what, are your thoughts around making. Like. Movies, or theater a tool for. Socio-economic. Transformation. And back, in Africa so that's. My first question and my second question is just a lot. Of the work you guys are doing and it's, really, inspirational I sincerely I grew up in Ghana and there's a first time here are some Benny so, just, shows the huge, gap we, have when it comes to information, and how much we know about own people but, my quite my second question is how do we raise the, next generation of some vanish like. That. Question. Yes I think you. The. Themes that some band l2 is in his book I still as, I still wait with us because. I think symbol was a visionary. He, saw the future, I mean, his feature is our present, and I think all the problems he had seen were, still leaving the problem of reunification, of, the continent. Most. African countries gained. Independence in, 1960. What. Is called the organization of African Unity was, created, since 1963. Were. Still talking about uniting. The continent, and. When you look at some bands films, also mostly. The. Same films, that were set in Senegal, they're, all depicting. Or local. Black bourgeoisie which. Has hijacked, our. National. Independence. So. Issue, of social justice is, still there, independence. One. Example. Still. The, former, 14. French colonies, in Africa they're. Still using a currency, that is controlled, by friends. All. Our resources, are, controlled, by Europe. So. Issue of political, economic, and social independence. Is, current, but. Somebody was one of these visionaries, who really. Understood. That. Slavery. Colonization. And operation. Came, to stories. That were told, that. Therefore, even. If he showered, Africa with billion, today as long as there is no, cultural. Freedom. The. Freedom. To use our languages, freedom. To create our own myths, create. Our own metaphors. I mean, the continent, will always, be in. The yoke of foreign occupation. So the issue. That some been dealt with those are the issues my generation, is dealing with that's, the issue your generation, is still dealing with in in. In, Africa I mean why, here in theater Washington, there is a saying in my language they. Say when you see a frog jumping. In the hot Sun because. There is no peace under the water port. What. Are the conditions, that need to be creating, Africa so we all go back to Africa and it doesn't me to shut, ourselves out, of the rest. Of the world but. How how. Make, it in such a way that Africa, is our reference in the world and I think that the challenge sanben face the, challenge you are facing the challenge you, are facing now, what I what, Africa are going to create for your children I think that they make question and it is a collective, responsibility. What we are doing as jason said is at the simple small. Way for us to contribute, towards. That but. We all have that same is, possibility, in my view so. For, second you can you come and live with the second part of the so. Many question module, weighs the next generation, of Salmons, how do we bring them go. Ahead. Well. Sanben. Can inspire, people to tell their own stories I think that's the most important, part, is you. Know anyone. Who makes an independent film can talk about how difficult it was but the degree of difficulty, that he faced was extreme, and he still did it because he was motivated to, use, stories, to make a better world so, that's not an African, inspiration. And. The, next generation, of SEM bends can be, anywhere they can be in any from. Any inner city from any rural. Community, anywhere. Across the world anyone. Who feels like this story is not being told who. Feels, empowered. To tell that story themselves. And I think the. Technological. Opportunities. You. Know right you know lower the. You know the barriers to entry to such, an extent that anyone can do it if they feel motivated and. So. What. I would hope for this project is that more. Young people will, say I can, do it and. That's. That's one way to raise them is to introduce. Young. Filmmakers, young artists. Young writers. To. Works that really resonate, with them and, create. Some. Sort of alternative. To the mono, culture that that is swapping. A lot of the world right now, and. I think that you know the tools, that are available. Make. It so much easier, that it's really just a matter of communicating. The idea to people Jason. You said, earlier. That.
These Stories they really enriched, you and like inspired, you right and, you mentioned, also that when, you you. Visit countries go. Back to your home country senegal they're watching western, films mostly. And. Some of these films are a lot of the films that we're even made there might not have been made in a local language, well. And, also that, we. Need a garner, support in order to like enrich these programs and spread them are. There any things being so this, is interesting for me because I'm enriched by being here right and largely. I'm here thanks to Mon who, was able to bring this so, there's like a lot of coincidences that had. To happen in order for me to get this enrichment. Are, there things being done here, to, spread, sampans. Films, so that you know people here can be inspired and maybe, it, can gain momentum. You, know because I feel like there's a lot of hunger. At places. To like show films like this local. Coffee shops and those kind of things, is. There anything like. In in in around, here not even necessarily Seattle but yeah. I. Mean I think I think you, know YouTube is the is the is a great democratizing. Force in terms of, global. Media, I mean it's it's providing. Content, on demand for for people around the world and. And. The question is can these. Platforms. Be used. To. Help. Strengthen. Community, and to, open. People's minds, and to inspire, them and to bring meaning, into the world and to encourage you. Know critical thinking and creative, problem solving, and I, think they can you, know, the. Way that some and I talked to each other is greatly enriched, by our you. Know our the. Depth of understanding we, have for San bans films we have a language, that, helps us talk about how to solve problems and. So. It's a question of how do we connect, people. To. The content that already exists, is there a way to strengthen, those to. Deepen those channels and to make. Them because. A lot of the work is available or could easily be, available. People. Don't know it yet and they. Might not know how to watch it and they might not watch. It within community, which also strengthens, your experience, so. Those are questions that I think can be fairly. Easily address, you. Know through technology, even. Yeah. I think the technology is available, now how to take that. African specific, content, and to make it available and, give it back to to. African every, year the, hundreds of films that are being made on the continent, in Senegal, at least, each, there. Is at least one feature film that is made in Solana so I think if. Outlets. Like Google. Or any other. Support. Would, take that content, I mean people are spending all their days in Senegal, in my village for inside watching, hindi movies on on, that cell phones what, can we do to make sure yes. They can keep on watching in the movies is good because whatever you get from the order is original, for you but, you have to start with how, can we take African content, and make, it over to that technology, so, that Africa, can share it not only among Africans, but also share it with. The rest of the world and I think there is something very symbolic. We should not lose the. Fact that this. Guy from Connecticut, and me from Senegal were able to walk to have the same vision under - for 10 years through our kitchen table to create this it, means that it is global. When there is a vision the political. Will I think, now the technology, is here and. It's not just Africa. These. Kinds, of projects could happen anywhere. Once an infrastructure, is built once models, are built that could encourage people. To connect with media. That matters to them I love that you reflected back the, fact that how I was enriched by this how you're enriched by it and it's important, to know that that. These. Stories are not one-way, streets they're not they're not closed loops they can really you know the more that we hear from other. Cultures. And other communities, the. More open-minded. We, become the more open-minded we've, become the, more flexible we come in in problem-solving, and obviously we need a lot of, critical. Thinking right now to solve these global, problems that are facing, us I think stories. Are you, know are not secondary, to that I mean obviously they're. At the forefront and some, been recognized, that I mean sanben could have been president of Senegal he could have been he, was offered a ministry, in Senegal but he decided that the battleground, for him was storytelling. It. Seemed, like Sam Ben was self-taught. In a lot of ways and. Even. From the bits. Of his films that were in the documentary, it seemed to he seemed to have a kind. Of an original. Style. But I don't, quite know how to describe. It and I haven't seen a lot of his work, could, can you talk a little bit about that. Characteristics. Of his.
Visual Style or his storytelling, technique. Yeah. I mean like, many other African, filmmakers. Someone, get his training abroad. In. The Soviet Union in. 1962. That was of course during the Cold War I, mean. Of course the Soviet Union also wanted to have its share of the Africa cake by. Sponsoring. A lot of African filmmakers, so, some men learned how to make films in the Soviet Union of course was also influenced, by the, Soviet, realist, with type of making films I mean he is crazy. About Lenin, I quoted this, poster of Lenin as his tour with with, the caption but. Also some men lived, in France for a long time and has contacted, many French. Filmmakers, and you can also see, in his early. Films, the first three, films a certain, touch of Italian, neo-realist. Influence. Of course, way capturing. Not. The high, culture but the, everyday the, everyday, life but. Then I think starting in 1968. I think I alluded to that when he started making films in war off he. Started searching for what he called an authentically. African, film language. Because. You have 55. African, countries, you. Have thousands, of languages, you have thousands, of cultures, how, to cross, those, linguistic, and cultural barriers, and make a, film that could speak to the entire continent. So. There is one phrase he used, some time I said well our languages, are so, many that an African. Filmmaker. Should. Try to find a way whereby. We. Start hearing with our eyes and sing to our ears. Which. Is through. Gesture. To other devices, to. Share cultural. Practices. How, can we read a film. Without. Using, any actually. His vision was maybe, we should return to the silent, film and use. All the resources that. Are pertinent to African, culture, so, that a film made in burkina faso could, be understood, in to the sudan or filmmaker in the sudan could be understood, in south africa yes and i think the starting point was the african languages, and, from 1968. To is deaf in 2017. All these films are in african. Language if not only Senegalese languages, because his last his film was, in doula and Juara. Is a language from Mali, côte d'ivoire under and. Under Senegal, so, yes there was influence, of we all are I mean, you cannot be. Exported. Without being influenced, and I think is very salutary too we, take. Everything. We can from anywhere we can get it but also we have to create our own I. Think that is, sambandh. Anti, his his entire life has been searching. For, that's, something, that we create a, dialogue. Among all Africans, that's what I would call some bands film language. It. Was very economical. Language to I mean he didn't have a lot of resources so you. Know he would shoot fairly, simply, especially. At the beginning there's, a there, is a crane shot in his last film and that's his crane shot for the for his entire 40. Year career and. He. Was very interested. In sound. Samba, said and, so he thought a lot about how. To record sound. So. Those are some of the influences I think you know he was he was he. Evolved, and he thought about forming. Content to how to tell a particular story. Some. Of his films were much, more colorful, in. Terms of palette than others, and. Yeah. He was he was he was he, had to be very practical in the way he shot, there's. One last thing in. Case of course you know a lot of interesting. Questions that have been asked here what. Is Sam bird all about are laughing just one short, story in one minute to give you who Sun bent was and what cinema, meant to him. He. Invited me on the set of his last film which, is about female, genital mutilation he.
Was 82, years old it. Was in do. 100. Degrees in burkina faso we. Were filming over, 11 weeks. One. Day he collapsed, I, went. And told him let's. Take a break I take you to a hotel you rest and, he. Said I caught. Samba. I will have enough time to rest after I die we. Have to make this film. That's. How meaningful, cinema. Was, to, send them I. Will. Have enough. Time in sorry to rest of, I died let's. Make this, film, and I think that's what it gives you an idea of what. While you. Very. Very powerful, so, as. A cross out if you, have, one or two things you wanted to leave with us today or to share, about sunburn. Good. Yours. Was very good. I. Would say. We. Have the the, tools. And. The stories, to. Make. Real progress and. Rebuilding. Community, and. And. Creative, problem-solving, I mean they exist already it's just a matter of deploying. At this point I think San Ben's films, they're. All getting restored, we've, helped. Get. Them out of the archive and, The, Criterion Collection will be releasing all of the films, coming. Soon so they're gonna be available to the world again and. And. But he's and, he's one of you. Know many, filmmakers who have told. Stories with great commitment stories, that can. Help. Us understand the world in the in a deeper way and so. I hope that we can find ways to connect, those stories with the people who can. Be. Find. The most meaningful. And. Professor, do you have any final note, voice well, I think he, has we, have said it all here, I think, I'm just, very very happy, I think, some bands wherever. He is if he could see this our. Richness. In our diversity. That's. What Sun bands dream was and I think that the kind of venom doing. This kind of work and, I, think that the world I want to leave to my children and, my children's children. And. Nothing, sunburn despite the limit of his means the, few films he made are. Going to be how. Do you call it. Eternal. So to speak, one. Last thing those of you are interested in digging. More about some binocs some. Adjacent and I worked for five years now all his, manuscripts. At Indiana University, in, in Indiana. And I'm, sure if you go here to the University, of Washington there are some bands so we're just this. First, opportunity. Thanks. To Anna and Guzman, thank you very much for doing this. It was just to plant a seed it's. Our collective responsibility, to make sure that. The tree grows, a, big, thank you to Jason. And professor, gage, ago in fact if I can say again in all of yes jerem, Yama, Yamaha. Thank. You even the guy speaks Wolof now. You.