Ramata-Toulaye Sy, a Franco-Senegalese filmmaker, has achieved a major milestone with the debut of her first feature film at the Cannes Film Festival. Sy wrote the screenplay for “Banel et Adama” in 2014 while attending Fémis film school, but only recently filmed it in a rural village in northern Senegal. Despite growing up and studying in France, Sy felt compelled to make her first film in Senegal. She made the decision to shoot the movie entirely in the Pulaar language, with non-professional actors chosen from the local community.
The story follows the passionate love between Banel and Adama, who have never left their village in northern Senegal. However, their love is in conflict with the age-old traditions of their community, which are upset when Adama refuses to accept his responsibilities as a future chief. Banel, fiery and rebellious, stands up to her mother-in-law and confesses that she does not want to be a mother, which goes against the belief that a young woman’s destiny is to bear male offspring for her husband.