About Abderrahmane Sissako

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Lecture details

This lecture will be in the form of an extended, on-stage interview led by Akin Adesokan, a writer and scholar from Nigeria, whose research focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century African and African American/African Diaspora literature and culture; global postcoloniality; African and contemporary global cinemas; postcolonial intellectual history; nonfictional prose; and literary and cultural theory.


Abderrahmane Sissako (born 13 October 1961) is a film director and producer who has often worked in Mali and France. Sissako is, along with Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé, Idrissa Ouedraogo and Djibril Diop Mambety, one of the few filmmakers from Sub-Saharan Africa to be considered one of the world’s leading filmmakers. His film Waiting for Happiness (Heremakono) was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival official selection under Un Certain Regard, winning the FIPRESCI Prize. His 2007 film Bamako received much attention. Sissako's themes include globalization, exile and the displacement of people. His 2014 film Timbuktu was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Soon after his birth Sissako's family immigrated to Mali, his father's country, where he completed part of his primary and secondary education. Sissako returned briefly to Mauritania, his mother's land, in 1980. Then he left for Moscow, where he studied cinema at the VGIK (Federal State Film Institute) from 1983 to 1989. Sissako settled in France at the beginning of the 1990s. In addition to feature films and short films, Sissako has served on the jury of the Premiers Plans festival in Angers in January 2007, and on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival later in the same year.

This event is sponsored by the College Arts and Humanities Institute, African Studies Program, the Black Film Center/ Archive, the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of History, Film and Media Studies, The Media School, and the IU Cinema. Special thanks to Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Institut Français, Amélie Garin-Davet, and Marissa Moorman. Screenings are free, but ticketed.

Abderrahmane Sissako is scheduled to be on campus April 13–19 and present at several screenings.

FILMOGRAPHY 1989 THE GAME (short) 1992 OCTOBRE (short) 1995 LE CHAMEAU ET LES BÂTONS FLOTTANTS (short) 1996 SABRYA (short) 1997 ROSTOV-LUANDA (documentary) 1998 LIFE ON EARTH 2002 WAITING FOR HAPPINESS, Un Certain Regard, Cannes Film Festival 2006 BAMAKO, Out-of-competition, Cannes Film Festival 2007 TIYA’S DREAM / 8 (short) 2008 STORIES ON HUMAN RIGHTS (segment: N’DIMAGU– DIGNITY) 2010 JE VOUS SOUHAITE LA PLUIE (short) 2014 : TIMBUKTU, Official Competition Cannes Film Festival


  • Jury of Cannes Film Festival
  • Officer of Arts and Letters of the French Republic
  • Medal of National Merit, Mauritania
  • Vice President of Cultures, France
  • Member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch
  • Board Member, FIDH of Geneva
  • Special Adviser to the President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania since 2010
  • Doctor Honoris Cause of Paris 8 in 2013

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