La Petite Vendeuse du Soleil (the Girl who sold the Sun) follows the life of a young girl who moves from her village to Dakar – having permanently lost the use of one of her legs, the only job she can do, is beg on the streets. One day however she sees boys selling Le Soleil, a national newspaper. Although no girls do that job, she manages to convince those in charge to give her a try… But can she survive in a cut-throat world where only aggression pays off? Offering a loving vision of modern day Dakar, Diop-Mambety takes us through all of the highs and lows of the sprawling city. His gentle, tender touch is evident but the tone doesn’t become sickly sweet with the film ending as realistically as it honestly could.
Djibril Diop-Mambety only managed to make 2 feature length films and a handful of shorts in his lifetime. The making of Hyenas, his second feature film, was so chaotic that he decided that his next project would be made up of three independent short films – the common theme to the three films was the power of money amongst the Senegalese “petites gens” (lit. small people) – an affectionate term for the lower classes. His premature death in 1998 curtailed all these plans, with the editing of La Petite Vendeuse… being finished without him. His avant-garde style made him one of the most influential African filmmakers of his generation but his meagre output is sadly representative of the underfunding of the continent’s cinema…