hyperlink Hex | words by S. David

A M. Diop, más querida #1

Dear Mati Diop,

I should start by saying that I do not know you, but I am writing this letter to you because I feel as though I could know you, and I feel as though I should. At the moment, I am writing about a letter, or rather a series of letters, by a filmmaker to another filmmaker. This letter is inspired by those letters, and while I do not consider myself a filmmaker, maybe I should. This letter might be more fitting and appropriate that way.

The letters themselves comprise the 1992 biographical film project The Last Bolshevik, directed by Chris Marker. Chris Marker-- he is probably my favorite dead filmmaker, precisely because he was more than a filmmaker, he was a writer and a humorist, and in life, as in death, he gave few interviews. I cannot give too many details here about my piece's points, as it is to be hopefully published and skimmed elsewhere. But I hope you have the chance to at least read it.

I know you are busy at Cannes. As a person of the so-called Black Atlantic, among other things, I live vicariously through your successes and, I'm sure, through your tragedies as well. I first saw Snow Canon and A Thousand Suns, your first features, when I was twenty-six. I am twenty-seven going on twenty-eight now, and it remains with me, even though the tide of time's signature has, in one year, taken me elsewhere. Your films likewise take me elsewhere

They remind me of a life outside this prison cell or continental chain-gang-- beyond mere aesthetic alternatives and into the true world of the subaltern. I have yet to see Atlantics, I am still waiting for its home release, but I have seen Atlantique. And your pictures remind me of my pictures and my family's pictures, my memories of Abyssinia, of Addis Ababa, at the other edge of Africa, of Axum and Entoto Hill, Zewdu, Girum. And all the hands, the hands outstretched for something, anything other than candy.

You are not a token, and for that I admire you and love you, even. Your collaborations with Fatima and Dean are likewise fitting for that reason. They are also different, unique. You came to Cannes two (?) years ago on your own terms and left, to my mind, a hero. They say to not meet your heroes. Maybe I will never meet you. But to meet someone is to see their image, and to love them is for them to be distilled in immemory. Beyond that, it's just words.


S. D.

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