Tuesday, August 10, 2021 at 7pm
Safi Faye's Kaddu Beykat

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Kaddu Beykat, Safi Faye, 1975, digital projection, 90 mins

The groundbreaking debut from renowned Senegalese director Safi Faye, Kaddu Beykat employs a combination of narrative modes—it is at once a love story and an ethnography—to create a vivid portrait of life in her home village during the early 1970s, a seemingly quiet outpost during the nation’s first decades of independence. The story centers on Ngor, a young man intent to marry but unable to provide a proper dowry; the community’s internal economy, we learn, has been upended by state-imposed farming practices and the neocolonialism of international markets.

This scenario delicately reveals itself through conversations around everyday events, eventually leading Ngor to journey to a rapidly-growing city to seek his fortune. “Structured in the form of a letter to a friend,” scholar Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike writes, Kaddu Beykat “interlaces themes of village life, temporality, and work, from dawn to dusk. Here, Faye’s camera follows the village from its awakening, showing peasants in their daily routine, doing domestic chores, working in the dusty fields, singing work songs, enjoying family meals, with glimpses of traditional medicine practices and the customs of courtship and marriage. We see the village elders in their traditional evening meetings remembering the old days when everything was abundant, now expressing fear and concern about an unpredictable future.”

The first theatrical release directed by a sub-Saharan woman, Kaddu Beykat was initially banned in Faye’s home country for its criticism of the government, but garnered numerous awards and has long maintained a cult status among cinephiles, providing inspiration to generations of African and diasporic filmmakers.

“As a young woman I was very enthusiastic about documenting the lives of the peasant community, the farmers, where I come from… I wanted to film their preoccupations, to tell their stories. They live in this world like any other people; they are happy, maybe, but not often. In their society, they can live only if they can cultivate their lands. But they face two handicaps—the problem of inadequate rainfall, which causes drought, and that of government exploitation. I felt I must tell their stories my own way—through film. When I was doing my fieldwork and examinations in ethnology for my second degree at the university, I gathered a lot of research materials and resources in the community. When I began to work on my findings, I found that, following all discussions of political problems, people were also very interested in talking about ethnology. When I completed that study, I put aside the information on economic problems and used only my ethnologic themes, for example, the ‘primitive’ (read: traditional) religions before Catholicism and Islam. That was the theme of my thesis. One day I realized that I could use all the sociological and economical information I had gathered to make a film. So I created a little fictional love story between a man and a woman who could not be married and happy because of the worsening economic situation in their country. That was the beginning of Kaddu Beykat, which does not quite mean letter from the village, as has been translated in some sources, but rather paroles, or words, of the farmers.”

- SF

Tickets - $8, available at door, cash and cards accepted. Box office opens at 6:30pm.