May 2002
SIA : The Dream of the Python

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

SIA - The Dream of the Python

Distributor:ArtMattan Productions
Director:Dani Kouyate
Screenwriter:Dani Kouyate, based on a story by Moussa Dingana
Producers:Sekou Traore and Claude Gilaizeau
Cast:Sotigui Kouyate, Fatoumata Diawara, Habib Dembele
Language:In Bambara with English subtitles
Running Time:96 minutes

As part of the 25 years of DanceAfrica Celebration at BAM Rose Cinemas, BAMcinematek presents a film that is cinematically amazing as well as its story. “Sia: The Dream of the Python” is a story where the quest for happiness and peace is not fully shared by all as the ultimate sacrifice is questioned. Kouyate’s second feature is filled with compassion as an African culture is examined with complexity and poetic moments.

In this fable, the ruling Emperor (Kardigue Laico Traore) is at his wits trying to restore prosperity to his city of Kombi. When his priest suggests that he make a human sacrifice to the Python God, a rite where the most beautiful woman is chosen to be killed, the Emperor agrees and chooses Sia (Fatoumata Diawara), the young virgin and daughter of civilians. Reluctantly all are in agreement when money is offered as compensation. Problem is no one told the person betrothed to Sia, Mamadi. Mamadi is a lieutenant in the army who has the backing of Kerfa (Habib Dembele), an elderly member of the government who opposes the sacrifice as well. Together, the two struggle to keep Sia hidden from the military and the people, who want nothing more that to feel safe and secure in their homeland. Sia, herself must question whether she has what it takes to be a traitor to her people or a heroine.

Sia is a film that is visually stunning as its costumes and settings capture the essence of what Africa looked like in ancient times. Fables are not easy stories to make, especially when mixing politics and cultures together. Diawara is captivating as the beautiful Sia who must endure the harshest treatment ever faced by a woman. At times, her silence speaks many volumes. The score is rich and triumphant. In adapting the legendary story with a contemporary form, Dani Kouyate has faithfully given the author a new audience that will see it as a universal way of life in some aspects.

Sia: The Dream of the Python will be shown at the BAM Rose Cinemas starting May 24, 2002.


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