Up until recently, Actress and Director Mati Diop was previously best known for her appearance in the 2008 movie “35 Shots of Rum,” playing the lead role of a young woman in a close relationship with her father who struggles to leave him as she gets ready for marriage.
But now, she is known for being the first black woman to ever receive an award at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.
In France on May 25th, 2019, Diop won the Grand Prix prize for her movie, “Atlantics,” a Senegalese drama highlighting sexual politics among young migrants.
The movie, which is shown in the Wolof-language, is loosely based on her documentary of the same name which she released a decade ago. It tells the haunting tale of a group of boys who decide to leave Dakar for a better life by boat after working on a construction site of a futuristic tower for months without pay. Seen through the eyes of Dana, a troubled young Muslim woman, they end up lost at sea and a mysterious fever starts to spread.
Born in Paris, the French-Senegalese Diop is a member of the prestigious Diop family. Her father, Wasis Diop is the renowned Senegalese folk/jazz musician and her uncle was the prominent Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty.
On receiving her award Diop expressed sadness that in 2019, she is the first and only black woman to have a movie screened at Cannes, let alone winning an award.
“My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019,” she said. “It’s pretty late and it’s incredible that it is still relevant.”
Prior to making history, Diop worked sporadically as an actress and scriptwriter.Tags: film