Senegalese film celebrates last day of life

Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:10am EST
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By Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - "Tey," a Senegalese modern fairy-tale which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival on Friday, depicts a young man who wakes up inexplicably knowing today is the last day of his life.

"Tey," meaning "today" in the Wolof language, is one of three films in the competition set in Africa, which festival director Dieter Kosslick has described as "an almost forgotten continent in film."

Director Alain Gomis, the son of a French mother and Senegalese father, said "Tey" was about coming to terms with death in order to better appreciate the present, the today.

"In Europe, death doesn't exist, we don't confront it, instead we try to forget it even exists," he told Reuters.

"Through this film I confronted my own biggest fear, that of death, and now I have come to terms with it, it actually enriches every moment, every moment is magic," said the softly spoken director with waist-length dreadlocks.

The main character Satche, played by U.S. actor and musician Saul Stacey Williams, wanders through the bustling streets of his hometown in Senegal, meeting old friends and family and re-assessing his life, in attempt to gain closure before dying.

But if the whole community is involved, dialogue is sparse, reflecting the fact that this journey is an internal one.

"For me it was very scary getting into the character for this film because it operates off the premise of living every day as if it is your last day," said Williams, who learnt Wolof and French on the set. "I had a fear of dying."   Continued...

<p>Actor Djolof M'bengue, actress Anisia Uzeyman, actor Saul Williams, director Alain Gomis and actress Aissa Maiga (L-R) attend a photocall to promote the movie "Aujourd'hui - Tey" at the 62nd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 10, 2012. REUTERS/Morris Mac Matzen</p>