Federal Republic of Germany, Senegal / 1980
59 min. / Original version with English subtitles
By the time she produced MAN SA YAY for German television in 1980, Senegalese auteur Safi Faye had already honed her skills through an impressive suite of projects that reflect on life in her home nation.
Effortlessly fluid in style, weaving together fiction, non-fiction, the essayistic and the epistolary, the film follows Moussa, a young student at Berlin’s Technische Universität. While he does connect with friends and lovers, he is primarily seen alone, working odd jobs, cooking or tidying his apartment. At home is where he reads the letters from family members and his partner in Senegal which structure the film.
At once the centre of the film and a conduit for other lived experiences, Moussa serves to reflect and refract two distinct constellations of social connections. We learn of his loved ones in Senegal (including their wish lists of consumer goods from Europe). Such experiences and desires are mirrored by the sequences of his friends, other West African expatriates making due by hawking “African artifacts” on the street. In each case, we hear the repeated question, laden with longing in some cases, pitched as thinly veiled microaggression elsewhere: “When will you return?” (Jesse Cumming)
Production company ZDF (Mainz, Federal Republic of Germany). Director Safi Faye. Screenplay Safi Faye. Cinematography Patrick Fabry, Papa Moctar Ndoye. Editing Hormos Khossoussi. Sound Gottlieb Benz. With Moussa J. Sarr, Yay Sokhna, Yvonne Nafi.
Safi Faye, born in the village of Fad’jal near Dakar, Senegal in 1943, she worked as a teacher before going on to study ethnology and film in Paris. She made her first short film LA PASSANTE in 1972. Her prize-winning feature-length debut KADDU BEYKAT (Berlinale Forum 1976), is regarded as the first feature film made by a female director from sub-Saharan Africa. In 1979, Faye came to the Freie Universität Berlin for a video workshop and subsequently stayed on in the city with a grant from the DAAD. It was in this period that her ZDF-produced feature film MAN SA YAY was made.
Films: 1972: La passante / The Passerby (10 min.). 1976: Kaddu Beykat / Letter from My Village (97 min.). 1979: Fad’jal / Come and Work (113 min.), Goob na nu / The Harvest Is In (29 min.). 1980: Man sa yay / I, Your Mother. 1981: Les âmes au soleil / Souls under the Sun (27 min.). 1982: Selbe et tant d’autres / Selbe: One Among Many (32 min.). 1985: Racines noires / Black Roots. 1989: Tesito (30 min.). 1996: Mossane (106 min.).