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Genesis
(La Genèse)

Directed by Cheick Oumar Sissoko.
With Sotigui Kouyaté, Salif Keita, Balla Moussa Keita.
France/Mali, 1999, 35mm, color, 102 min.
Bambara with English subtitles.

Sissoko’s most ambitious film turns to the first book of the Bible to create an epic about cycles of violence and the seizing and wielding of political power. Sissoko’s version eschews the parts of the Book of Genesis most often adapted: here you’ll find no Garden of Eden, no Noah and no Moses. Rather he focuses on the story of Jacob and his sons. In doing so, he pulls no punches; the film includes scenes of ethnic warfare, rape and forced circumcision. As a result, Genesis has often been seen as a reaction to the Rwandan genocide of 1994 or, closer to home, to tensions between the nomadic Tuareg peoples of northern Mali. The film draws power from the beauty of its images and from Sissoko’s evocative use of location shooting around Mt. Hombori Tondo and in the desert.

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The 16th Geneviève McMillan Reba Stewart Fellow: Cheick Oumar Sissoko

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