Saaraba (1988, Amadou Saalum Seck)

CA Newsreel has blurbs by Jonathan Demme and Charles Burnett, so this was seen when it came out even if it hasn’t been seen since. “Saaraba presents an unsparing indictment of a corrupt older generation intoxicated with Western consumerism and of alienated urban youth addicted to drugs, sex and millenarian politics.”

Good looking movie, with more traditionally beautiful shots than in countryman Ousmane Sembene’s 1970’s movies (I haven’t seen his only 80’s film yet). At the time we were watching it, I thought I liked it pretty well. Katy was glad to be watching African movies again. We could both follow the story without any problems. But a couple days later we realized neither of us could remember anything about it. Saaraba had vanished! Now, a couple weeks later, my blogging task is hopeless. If not for Jonathan Demme’s pull-quote and this amazing screen-shot I took, the movie may cease to exist.


Well that’s not completely true. I can tell you it opens with our hero Tamsir returning to Dakar after years spent abroad, determined to live a proper African existence and reject the West. He has a pothead friend and likes a girl named Lissa. She’s promised by her parents to marry a fat man (“the MP”), but things go sour when Tamsir knocks her up. Either her dad or his dad needs to perform a sacrifice to save the herd (really don’t remember this part). T’s dad dies at some point. Demba, the cool dude shown above, spends the whole movie trying to fix his motorcycle so he can ride away to Saaraba (paradise), but I think he rides into a ditch and gets killed… or does he kill Tamsir’s dad? No, I am almost sure Demba dies.


The writer/director’s only listed film. Some of the crew was German. IMDB lists no acting credits, but I looked some of them up and found a couple Sembene crossovers: Elhadj Abdoulaye Seck of Xala and Omar Seck of Guelwaar. The American University, whatever that is, says this was the director’s thesis film.

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