Moustapha Alassane's Cinema of Possibilities (2009) - full transcript

Moustapha Alassane is a living legend in African cinema. His adventures take us to the era of "pre-cinema", to the times of magical lantern and Chinese shadows. He is the first director of ...

Once upon a time in Niger,

a young curious boy
who was named Moustapha Alassane.

Son of a rich Yoruba merchant
who had come from Nigeria,

he was living in Ayorou,
a little village near the Niger river.

To entertain himself and his friends

he used to cut characters
out of cellophane

and borrow his Dad's hurricane lamp

to organize projections
for which tickets were sold for 5 cents.

Thus, even without realizing it,

he had reinvented shadow puppets.

Then, in this poor, lost country,

started the adventure of
a cinema made from wires, bits and bots,

A cinema of dust,


rain and sun.

The cinema of the impossible.

Its main keys were
do-it-yourself and improvisation.

Its keyword was freedom.

The little boy for Ayorou lived through
the whole history of cinema.

From magic lanterns to digital.

We could say that his personal
and artistic paths

are among the most beautiful
that Africa has seen.

Moustapha Alassane
Filmmaker of the possible

Moustapha Alassane now lives in Tahoua,

a little city located 550km North
from Niamey, capital of Niger.

He has organized his cinematographic
universe in a big plot

that includes a house
for him and his family

and his shooting studios.

To be able to work autonomously,
he has trained his children in IT

and his neighbors in animation.

In this self-made Assane-Land,

this pioneer of Nigerien cinema

reinvents day after day
the cinema that makes him dream.

Moustapha Alassane is a tireless worker.

He spends his lifetime
looking for new shapes,

imagining new machines
and finding new writings.

Today, he is finalizing the storyboard of
Dandzaraidou, his last animation project.

- It smells like it's burnt.
- Mmh?

- It smells like it's burnt.
- What happened?

- It smells like it's burnt.
- Did you touch one of those wires? No?

To tell us his first steps in cinema,

he promised us to organize
a shadow puppets show.

Also, he will be using his old puppets.

He's not forgetting his last dream...

to create software that will let
children in Niger and elsewhere

create their own animated movies.

40 here.

- How many is it here?
- It's 50.

- 50?
- Yes and it's the same here.

This is 50.

This is 50.

You see?

And this one...

Here it is!

If you are done now

put it on the table.

Is there any oil in the...

in this lamp?

One day, one evening,
I was studying my lessons.

As I was moving the lamp,
I saw the shadows and thought...

"This is beautiful!"

That's when I started doing this.

The other children were my audience.

They did not know cinema,
so they were coming for it.

That's how it all started.

At the very beginning,
all I was doing was shadow puppets.

Sometimes I had some assistance

so that instead of doing only one puppet

we could do two.

So it almost looked like
a kind of scene.

But the one who was helping me
once took advantage of the situation.

He had learned to do it
so he was doing it on his own.

So I realized I had to
find something else.

Something we couldn't do.
That's how I thought of...

Doing the very same thing,
but in colors.

The magic lantern is ready now.

Here it is, my lamp.

The magic lantern is ready.


At the end of the 50's,
before Niger's independence,

Moustapha was working as an artist
for the newly created Museum of Niamey.

Someone is going to lift the...

this thing, up in the air.

This guy now looks strong.

Do you see that?

In this magic time when everything seemed
possible for Africa and the Africans,

he meets Jean Rouch,
a French ethnologist and filmmaker,

who had already been working
in Africa for several years.

Thanks to him, the young boy from Ayorou,
starts using cinematographic tools.

When I arrived in Africa, there was
the French Institute for Black Africa.

After independence,

in 1960,

the Nigerien government asked me
to become director of the center.

I was working for the CNRS,
I was free.

So I accepted to lead the scientific
department of the center we created.

It's now called
Human Science Research Institute.

Naturally, I created a cinema department.

To me, it seemed very
important that cinema

could be a tools that young
Nigerien could use for their researches.

Here is how I conceive collaboration...

First, demystify technique.

Teach people that...

technique can be mastered.


show them that...

they were given tools
to use on their own.

This is here, you know,
that the cinema was born.


It's in this context of crossing
energies and meetings destinies that

the young Moustapha will direct
what will become

the very first Nigerien film.

These scratched images of people
by the waterside of the Niger

reveal the freshness
of a dream becoming reality.

On the bank of a river,
a young girl, Maryam,

was washing her clothes.

Accidentally, she let a handkerchief go.

It began to drift away.

Rinsing another cloth,
she saw the handkerchief.

Will she go after it?

No! She is afraid.

Luckily, two young men were nearby.

One of them, Garba, dived and
brought the handkerchief back.

This was the opening scene

that led them to meet.

But the man had to go back to work

and has to leave the place with regrets.

There were not even 3m of offcuts.

The overall length of reel we had

was 30 meters.

Almost all of what we shot
is in the movie.

That's why I love this film.

I'd like to understand, Moustapha,

how can a young African
who never learned anything about cinema

- Yes?
- Find a camera, some reel...

and find all is needed
to make a movie like you did?

What was the...

No, it was not difficult.

I was with...

Jean Rouch.

He was filming.

I was helping him with his work.

I saw what he was doing.

When I wanted to make my movie,
Jean had a friend,

his name is Mr Sivat.

He was the Head of the
Forestry and Water Commission.

Mr Sivat had a camera.

A bellowell.

So I managed to get this camera.

I also found a bit of reel
and we started shooting the movie.

Later, at sunset,

the two friends met on the riverbank.

Garba was wearing
his most beautiful clothes.

The most beautiful gift for Maryam,

as a wedding promise,

was a pair of shoes.

Before they parted,

Garba said to Maryam

that he will tell his parents
about their decision.

Once home,

Garba told his father

"I'm in love with a girl."

"I love her and she loves me."

But marriage is of great
importance in our country.

It involves the participation
of the boy's family.

And the girl's family too.

With Aouré

Moustapha wins the First Prize
in the Ethnographic Film Festival

in July 1962.

Shot on location
in the Museum of Niamey,

with family and friends
as walk-on actors,

the movie tells, for the first time,
African life seen by an African.

Moustapha mixes poetry, freedom,
documentary and fiction.

That's the reason why his elder sister

sent griots,

spokesmen of African villages.

His voice may recall
tales from another time

but his images reveal a social universe,
a movement, part of the changing time.

Here is the tea.

Oh, thank you!

- Thank you.
- What are you doing?



Try to imagine what this is.

- It's an elephant.
- What?

- An elephant.
- Right.

See this? What is it?

This is a giraffe.

Near a tree.

- Right.
- Right.

- You recognized it.
- I know your animation.

Here you are.

I'll add some sugar.

Here you are.

Is your wife always
taking care of you, Moustapha?

- What?
- Does your wife always take care of you?

She has always been helping me.

Since I started doing this.

She has always been helpful.

Even with the animation.
For example, when we were doing...


There was a lot of things to do,
she was an animator too.

- Did she always support you?
- What?

Did she always support you?

I'm the father of her children.

If she doesn't support me,
who will she support?

What is this question, Christian?

You saw the children.

They grow up, they go to school...
She has to support me.

I did it.

It's done.

This is not a job for Mariolo.

We are creators.

Let people be happy
seeing what you create.

It's wonderful.

Isn't it? He thinks
it's a wonderful thing.

When he was working for the Museum of
Niamey, Moustapha met Claude Jutra.

This young Canadian director,
following Jean Rouch in Africa,

offered Moustapha
his first work with animation.

Surprised by this ingenious man
animating his drawings on his notebook,

Claude Jutra got him a scholarship for
the National Film Office in Montreal

where Norman McLaren
was teaching animation.

In 1960, Claude Jutra
went back to Canada.

A long correspondence then started
between him and the Nigerien artist.

Moustapha was sending him
his project and his drawings

In return, Jutra made short animated
sequences and gave him some advise.

I went crazy when I saw the my cartoon.

Crazy, I swear. Crazy with joy.

Oh, Mr Jutra!

Now I have too many
cinematographic ideas in my head.

Thanks to this success,
I want to make a career in movies.

I'm even dreaming that
I'll shoot, thanks to you,

the world's most successful movie.

Moustapha is only 18.

But he is already creating
many small characters

that will accompany him
during his whole career.

In the cartoon I'm making now,

I animate many toads.

It's is perfect!

My scenario is based on 80 images.

Everything is already
saved in movements.

I'm working days and nights
on this movie.

I wish I could ship you
these drawings today.

But I'm trying to make
this movie in colors.

The young artist, now a filmmaker,

Keep his Canadian friend updated

about the makings of his films.

I have prepared
a small book of 20 pages.

I'll soon send it to you.

The story is wonderful.

It contains many things
that define Africa.

In this true story,
you will recognize a true African.

His love, his joy, his problems.

To make a good African movie,

one needs an African like me.

I investigate a lot about
African songs and music.

And I'm not mentioning the dances.

I assure you that
the film is very pretty.

Its African and Europeans viewers
really enjoyed it.

It's true, I'm small.

But I don't lack talent.

In the end of the year 1962,

Moustapha went to Canada.

Tireless, curious, eager to understand
and impatient to do things by himself,

He spends his days in workshops
and his nights making movies.

In a few months,
he made The Gandji's Death.

The first African cartoon.

It will be awarded in the
Festival of Negro Arts in Dakar

in 1966.

In a small village

was living a peaceful society of toads.

One of them was named Abdou,
was on a walk.

Unfortunately, he met a weird animal,

that frightened him a lot.

He told it to the chief of the village.

Abdou shows to the hunter sent by
the king the place the animal lives in.

This week, we are going to see...



What did you say?

Like this, a strong man.

He does like this!
He does like this!

A man that does sport.

- Aren't the images beautiful?
- Yes.

- The images are beautiful.
- Yes.

- What is this?
- Me! Me!

- Me! Me! Me!
- Yes? Yes?

- Yes, you.
- It's somebody poor.

- It's?
- It's somebody poor!

You are great. You are great.

When he comes back from Canada,
Moustapha is barely 23 years old.

He gets into the HSRI.

The Human Science
Research Institute in Niamey,

which was just opened by Jean Rouch.

The human and technical resources
are exceptional for this young country

and are available for
researchers and filmmakers

who work there.

This tool, imagined by Jean Rouch and
mainly financed by the French Cooperation

allows for the emergence
of a first enthusiast wave of directors.

They are named Moustapha Alassane
and Oumarou Ganda.

But also Djingarey Maïga, Mariama Hima,
Inoussa Ousséïni...

They all join this adventure
of a cinema yet to create.

They are stimulated by the apparent
easiness independence brought.

The core of this first generation
builds around Jean Rouch

a cinema that impose itself
in the nascent African cinema.

Our Pope, our father, was Jean Rouch.

He was incredibly famous.

We were sent there
because of the cooperation.

I was assigned to the Franco-Nigerien
cultural center.

It was amazing.
We had a closet full of reel.

Two cameras. They were called
Éclair-Coutant at the time.

And we started doing so-called
"Development movies".

Films about Nigerien peasants and such.
I made 2 featured films and 4 shorts.

For example, I spend one year and a half
in a small island on the Niger river.

Oumarou Ganda was my assistant.

Hamani Moussa was
one of my assistants too.

There was an incredible period,
build around the cine-club we animated.

Every week.

There were the films we were doing.

And there were their movies.

This period was incredible,
but also because we were the same age.


Ousséïni was maybe two or three
years younger than me.

Weirdly enough,
I was some kind of a teacher.

The animator of the cine-club.
But I was 18.

We were all children.

We were all siblings.

We were all...


Now, this is called Nigerien cinema.

I used to call this "The cinema of
Oumarou", "The cinema of Moustapha"...

Only then began the life of
Moustapha Alassane as a filmmaker.

When Rouch took him
out of the National Museum.

So as to bring him to the
Human Science Research Institute

which was the NCHS at the time.

Nigerian Center for Human Science.

He brought Moustapha
to the audio-visual department.

At that time, there already was
sound equipment,

image equipment,

there was even an editing table and
Moustapha was the king of the place.

We had two advantages with him.

The first advantage is that
he was a technician.

The second one he is that...

he had ideas.

The third advantage is that
he could manage people.

So we worked...

several years together.

We must admit that Moustapha had...

had trained many young people.

He trained me.
He trained???

He even trained Oumarou for some time.

We hung out with Moustapha.

Assiduously, at the beginning.

First to understand what he was doing
but also because he was the doyen.

The doyen of the cinema,
so we could talk to him.

He gave us advise, his point of view.

And all the foreigner filmmakers

coming to Niger

had to meet Moustapha Alassane.

He had become a meeting point

for everybody interested in
audio-visual and cinema.

To help his friends from Niamey
understand that cinema is faked,

where dead are not dead
and lovers are not loved,

where horses gallop in
landscapes westernized in such a way

that we keep looking for Indians,

Moustapha Alassane, 24,

and his friends Abdou,
Babacar and Djingareye,

who have Johnny Halliday bikes and
zazou trousers,

are shooting a movie with a small camera
and guns bought at the market.

He's led by the honor
of his beloved country.

And the development of our dear Niger.

Moussa not professional
of filmed westerns.

Along with Bana,
who is helping him.

Moustapha and Sambana,
Moussa and the actors.

Moussa not professional
of filmed westerns.

Along with Bana,
who is helping him.

It's 6 PM, end of the shooting.

Ibrahim quickly removes his cowboy
costume, fearing his Dad may scold him.

Young people had a great opportunity

to watch all kind of movies,
including westerns.

They identified themselves
with the heroes of the movies.

They would call themselves
after the names of the characters.

It lasted for some time.

I wanted to be an ethnologist
to study this behavior.

That's how I got the idea
to make this movie.

The Return of an Adventurer.

Welcome home. Welcome home.

- How are you doing?
- Fine. Welcome back.

Danny, you're here. You've grown up!

And you, Kali. How is your business?

Where is Belita? Over there?

Why the long face?

I've been longing to see you.

Leave me alone.

You can ask them.

Let's go. Please.

Take my suitcase.

My friends, here are
gifts from my trip.

- What is this?
- It's called "Cowboy" clothes.

For you Ibrahim. Go there.

Take off your hat and wear this.

A cowboy's hat, a shirt...

- Here, take them.
- Thanks!

Now, come with me for a demonstration.

From now on, you are Black Cooper.

John Kelly.

Casse tout.

Billy Walter.

And you, Queen Christine.

You got it?

Yeah, I got it.

He's a guy who really loves people.

He loves people deeply, more than ideas.

That's the impression Moustapha Alassane
gave me, I may be wrong.

He loved people. He would listen more
to their hearts than to their speeches.

It was not one of these African cinema
I have seen afterward.

Some sort of filmed thesis.

I think they often are
the contrary of cinema.

He had no thesis.

There was simply...

I could see on his characters' faces,

wearing cowboys hats
on the bank of Niger river,

something close to...

a reverie, a passing adolescence,
a passing childhood.

He could capture the youth on a face.

It's a wonderful record on his friends.

Dirty barman, give me my money.

- You don't want to pay me.
- Barman, give me my money.

Hey, Kelly, give him his money,
don't be a jerk.

Listen. There was a hunter.

He was hunting a bear with a fishing rod.
He got bitten.

Step in and you will end up the same.

Give him his money.

Stop fighting!
What's the point of all this?

The Return of an Adventurer
is the extreme parody

of an Africa catapulted in modernity.

It claims its right to
play with an imagination

that was imported by its colonizers.

Just as in The Wild One

Moustapha Alassane depicts
a group of youngsters

rebelling against the established order,

caught up in the spiral of a power
they have hogged and will overtake them.

The dominating thing
in Moustapha's oeuvre, I think,

is the morale.

You know, he had strokes of genius.

It was a caricature.

Of the power in Africa.

The power in Africa.

One needs to be able to see that.

The Return of an Adventurer,
twenty years later,

is what happened
in many African countries.

The reality of friends

who work together to take power

and then kill each other.

On that point, I think
he was a real visionary.

His way to depict
the future of the African society.

Watch out, Kelly! Take this.

Thank you.

Wait, stop shooting.

We felt embarked in an adventure.

We felt guided by a creative
and very powerful breath.

That's how I remember
working with Moustapha.

It was the first time I saw this.
I was a kid, it was the first time.

He had... He had it inside him.

It was not something precise,
it was a feeling.

But I don't think
it was a false feeling.

The last time I saw Moustapha,
he was the owner of a hotel in...

- Tahoua.
- Tahoua.

- The Hotel of Friendship.
- Right.

And we met there.


Through this trajectory, there is...

there is Africa.

It was probably quite difficult
for him to go on making movies.

I think his story is
at the same time funny and not funny.

I come for my device.

Why? Why isn't it fixed yet?

It's... It's...

It's because the device is a bit tired.

It has worked a lot
and it's very dusty.

We still have to remove the dust,
but it's working already.

- It's too dusty?
- Yes.

- The dust broke it?
- Yes, it blocked the mechanism.

It's not easy.

A device that has been working
for one year or more,

You should bring it here to remove
the dust. It will avoid breakdowns.

With this kind of device,

if you use it for five
or even for three years,

The mechanism will get blocked.
You should remove the dust.

It's too dirty. We will have to clean it
and reassemble it.

- Okay I'm going. I'll come back at 7PM.
- Okay, thanks.

Moustapha is the best example

of what a director should be

in a underdeveloped country.

A developing country I mean.

I mean the filmmaker must...

be a technician...

who knows all the jobs.

Who could do

any job related to cinema.

That's why it's told
he makes films with bits and bots.

He starts a movie as soon as
he can do something.

He stops when he can't anymore.

But one or two years later
he will go back to work on that movie.

The result seems
made with bits and bots.

But it's still rigorous.

Moustapha invented the cinema.
That's what is beautiful.

But it's very rare.
How many Moustapha's per generation?

Very few.

Moustapha invented an art, the cinema.

I don't know if the anecdote
of the reel is true.

That he found a piece by chance
and looked through it.

It's extraordinary. It's like Mélies.

He's the African Mélies. He invented it.

Mr Sim, did you have a good trip?

Let's get to work.

- Mr Ledeli, public works.
- Pleased to meet you.

Mr Sim, do you want to
declare something?

I had a good trip.

And I'd like to tell you I've cared
about this trip for a long time.

Waiting for the means
to shoot another fictional film,

Moustapha doesn't stay idle.

During a trip to Paris,
he makes Good trip, Sim.

Another animation short.

In his small hotel room in Pigalle,
he was drawing on pieces of paper.

In the evenings, he'd shoot on his table
with a 16mm camera he had borrowed.

He developed the images in his sink.

Good trip, Sim tells the story
of the President of the Toad Republic.

He is on an state visit abroad.

Unfortunately, this new biting parody
of the new African politicians

will be self-censured by Moustapha
who will remove its final scene.

In this lost scene...

The president goes back home and
realizes he was overthrown by a coup.

The new leaders throw him in a pond
where he must live with other toads.

He shortened his movie
and did not want to talk about it.

I don't know if there has been pressure.

Whether he was approached and
told he shouldn't do that.

Or if he thought...

"Why do I talk about it?
I'd better do something else."

I think there are strong
political opinions in his movies.

In Good trip, Sim, Samba The Great,
The Return of an Adventurer...

But they are...

quite masked.

And, most of all,
he doesn't want to talk about it.


Well, Good trip, Sim is...

Heads of States all-powerful,
guiding everything, doing everything.

They congratulate themselves and decide

without democracy.

And in the first version of the film
it was even worse.

There was the crushing
of a revolt and such...

But he reduced it.

I'm a fearful person.

The interpretation

of criticism in Africa is not very good.

I didn't want to give
an opportunity to people

to throw me in jail all of a sudden
and for no reason.

To throw somebody in jail
you need a reason.

You can go to jail for a reason.

It's not difficult to go to jail.

You just have to...

You just have to...

do this kind of movie.

This will be an easy way
to go to prison.

But I am a fearful person.

Very fearful. I don't like that.

I don't want to go there.

Leave my grandchildren in trouble.

And be in trouble myself.
No, it would be useless.


What is it?

- You know...
- Yes?

It's the first time in my life
I'm alone with a man.

It really scares me.

What about you?

Me too.

But you don't have to be scared.
I'm here to protect you.

You can sleep peacefully.

I'm not sleepy.

I think I will lie down for a while.

If maturity made Moustapha prudent

his first films adopt
an audacious point of view

above political and social conventions.

In W.C.V.M.:
Women, Villas, Cars, Money,

He dares to bring us in the intimacy

of a young couple during its honeymoon.

Move over!

You want to lie down? Wait.

- I don't like that.
- What? The cigarette?

In W.C.V.M., Moustapha Alassane
tells the downfall of a civil servant,

stuck in the chain of events of
professional, economic and social success.

Once again, the filmmaker gives a free
and impenitent description of his society.

His reveals with irony
the paradox of the youth

stuck between its obligations
toward the traditional society

and its new needs
brought by oriental consumerism.

Here I am, finally married
to the woman of my dreams.

Problems again. Very serious problems.

For her, I bought
a sewing machine, a fridge,

a gas cooker, a kitchenware...

Women, cars, villas, money,

are not dangerous things.

But everything you do abusively
becomes dangerous.

When you abuse women, it's dangerous.

When you abuse cars, it's dangerous.

When you abuse villas, villas, villas!

It's dangerous.

When you abuse money,
especially when it's not yours,

when you abuse it,
it's always dangerous.


The movie does not mean

that it just is dangerous.

It intended to explain
what was happening at the time.

With people who wanted

to own all these things in a flash.

In conditions that were
most of the time...


I think...

I'm entitled to borrow
a little money from the cash register.

Because I will put it back.

If I think I have...

transfer fees,

my family allowance,

my wage,

my paid holidays,

my various allocations,

And even without that,

as the marabout said,

if I use this talisman,

I can indulge in everything.

After all, nothing ventured,
nothing gained.

When you have the power,

you have easy access

to these four things.

Women, cars, villas, money,
you have them.

So you don't want to give them back.

That's why

I think the problems in Africa are far
from being solved. It's just beginning.

Movies must denounce that.

Check when this film was made.

A long time ago.

Tomorrow, we will still be
in the same situation.

I hope this will stop someday.

At the end of the movie, the hero
will become the victim of his actions.

This will be the morale of the story.

The party in the nightclub,
filmed by Moustapha Alassane,

already sounds like a strange drift.

It announces the drift of the youth

affected by the euphoria of easy money.

For the 3rd edition
of the FESPACO in 1972,

Niger won all the most important prizes.

There was Moustapha Alassane
for W.C.V.M.

Women, Cars, Villas, Money.

It was co-production between him,

so Niger, and...

and Haute-Volta,
now called Burkina.

It was the first co-production
in this field.

Also there was The Polygamous
Wazzou, by Oumarou Ganda.

It won the Etalon d'Or de Yennenga,
the greatest prize

awarded in the festival.

Oumarou Ganda and Moustapha Alassane
are two different persons.

But we can say that
both of them have contributed,

in different manners,

to give credit to the Nigerien cinema.

They both had passion for cinema.

They both had passion for cinema.

Look what Moustapha did, as a producer,

as a distributor... He did everything,
he went through fire and water,

to show the movies,
to get Niger interested in cinema.

As for Oumarou Ganda,
his way was different.

But he was exuding cinema.

He would keep talking with
people, friends, family...

Even one of his daughters,
who was 8 years old at the time,

was an actress for one of his movie.

What I'm trying to explain is that
what these two had in common was

their passion for cinema.

Though sometimes,
when they were talking...

but it's human, it's only human,

they had sort of a distance.

But everything was done so as not to
do something irredeemable.

And we managed to all work together
until the death of Oumarou Ganda.

We were united.

We were sending final cuts.

We had stopped
sending rushes to France.

We were editing
the movies here, ourselves.

Things were happening here.

In the meantime,

the Nigerien cinema had reached
its cruising speed.

But problems of jealousy appeared.

They started to...

put us out of business
one after the other.

Well... Because of the economic crisis

our states began to have

financial problems.

With the disappearance of...

some filmmakers,

we started to notice

a slowdown, a lethargy.

The State can't...

predict everything, know everything.

The driving force is composed of
several individuals.

So when you have professionals

who are forced to defend

their work, their passion,

they are the ones pushing the State

to establish, develop a policy.

Cinema was not taken in consideration.

One proof is that

when the Ministry of Cultural Affairs
was created

cinema was diluted
into other cultural disciplines.

There was no will

to propel cinema

to a stage that would let it bloom.

You understand? That was a problem.

There was also
a problem of individualism.

Everyone wanted to achieve something
on his own. Go solo.

At the time, I think that

if the filmmakers had united
and spoken up for themselves,

something may have happened
thanks to that trigger.

Even at a state level.

There has not been enough support.

Despite the problems
Nigerien filmmakers have

to establish a real economical
dynamic around cinema

Moustapha Alassane keeps
widening his horizon

by looking for a foreign co-production.

- Ado wishes to come in.
- Ado! Come in.

- What is it, Ado?
- I'm bringing very important news.

I've met a stranger. He comes from
a big oasis in the desert.

- There is a lot of water.
- Water?!

Where is this stranger?

He strayed from his caravan
after a sand storm.

- He's waiting for me by the well.
- They are all bandits.

We know these people from the desert.
They are all looters.

The man you met, was he armed?

Please understand.
I talked to him, he can be our guide.

- Better to leave than die of thirst.
- Leave the village now?

Do you know what desert it?

Even if we get there, we will
all be massacred by these bandits.

Listen, Ado.

The situation is very serious.

We all know that.

The spirit of the lake is angry.

We must find a way to appease it.


whose idols never lie,

through their revelation
has given us hope again.

He says the land
will grow green again,

the rains will take
their normal course,

the people will regain
their joy and prosperity.

But he demands a sacrifice.

So we will organize

a celebration in honor of Omiasseche,
the spirit of Yalambouli lake.

And in a few days,
our water reserves from the well

will be depleted, dry, over!

You expect a miracle to save us?

Anyway, I will leave today
with the stranger.

I'll be back just in time
to prove what I said.

Young man, have you ever seen an ox
leave the herd when there is danger?

In 1973, just before the coup
led by General Seyni Kountché

and the establishment of
the state of emergency,

Moustapha co-directs
with the German producer Anna Söehring

Toula, or the Water Spirit.

This movie is a prophetic metaphor

of the destiny of Nigerien cinema
for the following years.

A cinema abandoned to desertification,
by immobile politicians

waiting for miracles and sacrificing
what is most precious to them.

Unlike the king in Toula, Moustapha
Alassane doesn't wait for miracles.

After this movie, that remains today
his last feature film,

facing a growing lack of means

he dedicates himself to animation,

the only thing that let him
remain an independent filmmaker.

What's the matter?

Can I help you?

I'm willing to do anything, you know.

I may have done many more films.

People where not ready to
swallow a bitter pill.

The pill of engaged cinema.

That's a too bitter pill.

Also there was no market.

The reason why I stopped doing films
at some point is easy:

there is no reliable
distribution network.


I was never less paid for making a movie
than when I was working for Niger.

I told the CEO.

The lowest pay, the worst pay
I've received for making a movie

in my whole life,
it was from Niger.

It was the Nigerien TV.

I said it to the CEO.

And as soon as I'll meet him again,
I'll say it again.

We have proven we have talent.

We made ourselves
most of the movies you have seen.

You saw the closing credits.

It's written "With the help
of the French Cooperation" and such.

Why is that? We want to work for
our own country.

They should make an effort
to help us work here. Why not?

If we were not good filmmakers,

they could say we have done nothing.

We have made films
that have been seen all over the world.

But still, Africa will not
help us make more films.

It won't.

Here we are.

And then you...

Don't let the violinist's head
put a hat on that way.

He should look in direction of...

that man over there. Here!

That's it.

Good. Okay!

Okay, I'll come slowly.

Let me see.

Okay, this is all good.

What I wanted...

I was explaining earlier.

Enough, leave it like this.

For the calabash, it's the same thing.

He raises his right arm first.

He hits.

While he hits the calabash,
he raises the other one.

But here is what happens.





Five, six, seven,
eight, nine, ten.

In Africa, we say that inner aches

are meaningless, or cannot
be compared to outer aches.

If you have stomach aches

you don't know why it hurts.

The real cause.

But if your knee is scratched,

you see the scratch and
you see its evolution.

You know how to heal
the pain on the outside.

- Hello. How are you doing?
- I'm fine.

In the middle of the 70's,

facing growing difficulties
in production,

Moustapha created an ambulant cinema.

He showed his own movies
but also movies he likes.

Such as Ben-Hur,
The Bicycle Thieves, Rio Bravo,

or Alibaba and the 40 thieves.

His journey around the country
led him to Tahoua,

where he met Adissa,
who became his third wife.

Unexpectedly, he decided to settle in
this northern city far from everything.

He bought a plot

and built and outdoor cinema
he animated himself for a few years,

and an hotel that, to this day,
guarantees his financial independence.

How many viewers where there
during your journey?

How many viewers?


It depended on the regions.

Sometimes 100, 200, 300, 400...

It depended on the density of population
of the city we were in.

It varied a lot
according to the density.

Can you describe for us
what was happening?

When you were showing movies in a city,
how would it happen? What would you do?

When we arrived...

the first thing was to find a place.

Actually, it was the state of emergency.

Because of the state of emergency,
we had to talk to the authorities first.

We would go to the police station.

We had to give money to the police
to ensure our security.

Then we had our place,
and in the evening

the police would
never show up actually.

But still we had to pay.

We started in 1974.

We built a cinema here, in Tahoua.

And in the meantime

we had another team in...

Madaoua, right?

- Yes.
- We had another team in Madaoua.

So starting from Madaoua
it began to become ambulant.

In 78 or 79
it was not ambulant anymore.

We had a theater, with projectors.

35mm projectors.

- Moustapha opened that theater?
- Absolutely, he did.

You built the chairs,
you built the projector,

you made the movies...
What didn't you actually create?

I did not steal.

I was legally making profit.

- It's true.
- The work was huge.

We did not...
We worked legally.

It's very very cute.
Its eye is cute.

You are so kind, pal!

You are very kind, dear frog.

He is a real professional.

He fought and he keeps fighting.

I think he is the only one
seriously fighting.

Apart from making movies,
he also created structures.

He created structures for the people,

to let them participate in
the development of Nigerien cinema.

This is Moustapha Alassane.

He is a cultural wealth.

I call him "The Ambulant Heritage".

Frankly, I think Moustapha
deserves a lot of credit.

He has made many things
that are not very well known.

I have always reproached him:
"Moustapha, you are too modest."

"At least..."

"Let the people..."

"know what you are doing."

He has always been modest.
He does things but does them...

in a sentimental way.

I think he is someone

who has brought a lot
to the cultural development of Niger.

By watching movies,

watching what has been made
since the 60's,

I discovered Moustapha Alassane's movies.

To me, that was a shock.


Firstly because I am a real fan

of the beginning of cinema,
of the birth of cinema.

I couldn't help but think of Emile Cohl,

it was the same as Moustapha Alassane's
first animation shorts.

So I looked for a way of meeting him.

A way to, at least,
distribute his movies.

A the time, he was
represented by Osange Silou.

So we started talking about
his two first films.

One day, Osange told me:
"Moustapha is coming to Paris."

"If you want to meet him,
that's your chance."

It was in 1997/1998.

That's how I met Moustapha.

In a café.

We talked about cinema,
about his cinema, we talked about...

distributing all his films.

Sambagana and the Issa Beeri's Snake

fought for hours, days, months, years...

It lasted eight years.

After fighting for eight years,
Sambagana defeated Issa Beeri's Snake.

Everybody saw it.

He took the bloody spear
and gave it to Sadi Ali.

Here, Kouyaté, go tell Analia Toubari

that Issa Beeri's Snake is dead.

Analia Toubari, here is
Sambagana's spear.

The blood you see on this spear,

is the blood of Issa Beeri's Snake.

Analia Toubari said...

I saw the spear.

And I saw the blood on that spear.

Go. Go back to Sambagana.

And ask him to bring me
the corpse of the dead snake.

Sadi Ali Kouyaté said:
"Very well."

Then he left.

He gave Analia Toubari's message
to Sambagana.

Sambagana listened to the message.

He said...

"This is too much to ask."

So Sambagana killed himself.

While crying,

Sadi Ali Kouyaté took the spear.

And he came back to Analia Toubari.

He said...

"Here is Sambagana's spear again."

"But the blood you see on the spear"

"is not only the blood of
Issa Beeri's Snake"

"It's also Sambagana's blood."

"Sambagana is dead."

Then, for the first time,

Analia Toubari laughed.

In this epic tale told by Jean Rouch,

where a valiant warrior fights for
many years and goes to many places,

how could we not recognize
the tireless struggle fought by Moustapha

in every aspects of cinema.

I need more height.

This is not the height I need.

Were you ever discouraged, Moustapha?

- Were you ever discouraged?
- I'm never discouraged.

- Never.
- Never. Never!

- Never.
- Why is that so?

Why do you want me to be discouraged?

Some people are begging for food.

Some people are working
harder than me to get food.

I enjoy what I do.

If I were a singer, I'd sing.

I would dance and sing.

Would I be discouraged
to sing and dance?

And having people paying to see it? No.

This is a dusty country.

But I don't have to crawl
into dust to survive.

I do this.

The thing I have been
working on recently

Is software to...

I invite...

a number of animals,

including my frogs,

to facilitate

the creation

by children

of a movie.

Once children have access to it,

they will develop
new ideas to do other things.

Thanks to the elements built

by the software,
the children will learn to

do something else.

Instead of frogs,
they can choose rabbits.

They can do different things.

And they will understand
the way things work.

The organs that are part
of an animated movie.

They will start with the software

and then they will understand
how to animate something else.

This is what I'm trying to create.
We will see if it works.

If it works, I think

it will benefit children
all over the world.

How are you doing?

How was school?

- Did you work well?
- Yes.

Come eat with us.

It's ready?

Many filmmakers have struggled
to make their films.

I often had the impression that
after their struggle

they were out of breath.

They were so exhausted that
they couldn't transmit their heritage.

When you look at
different filmmakers, I'm thinking of

Bakabe, for example.

After making a few films

he went to video.

I don't mean video is bad. No.

But from a cinematographic
point of view

he was not able to go on.

When you look at Diop,
it's the same thing.

When you look at Inoussa Ousséïni
it's the same thing.

You can look at almost
all the great filmmakers we've had.

You will notice most of them

struggled to find funding.

At some point they got tired
and could not take it anymore.

When the generation of
the pioneers of cinema

in Niger reached
its apogee, its limits,

there was no succession,
no filiation.

This is what explains this rupture.

This explains the rupture.

There was a first generation
that was able to make films.

But nobody thought of
training the next generation.

- You mean the oldest filmmakers
did not teach the youngest? - Right.

Each filmmaker was making his own film.

There were elements associated from...

the Association of Nigerien Filmmakers.

But neither were there
political decisions

to train new filmmakers,

nor was there consideration
for training

provided by the filmmakers themselves.

Today, kids have never seen
a movie on a big screen.

Most of them only watch movies at home.

How could they be
attached to the theater?

Even outdoor theaters.

We have an environment in Africa
that is favorable to outdoor theaters.

A kid that has never seen a movie
in an outdoor cinema, how can we give him

the desire to make movies?

And the #37?

OK. #38 then.



You will remind me, #38-39.


It's done. Do I validate?

How does it feel?

To see your character animated, after...

- Weeks of work.
- It's a pleasure.

When you have worked for a week
and finally see it move

it makes you happy.

Not everybody can do it.

It's not easy.

See how beautiful it is?

That's how we made the dinosaurs
you have seen.

In the USA, they proceed like this.


we haven't seen them do it.
But we have investigated.

And we found our way of doing it.

If I want to create a dinosaur,

I will create a dinosaur.

If I want it to eat grass.
It will eat grass.

I can create searchers

that went to the bush
to look for something.

It will hunt them,
catch them and eat them up.

We can create it here, no problem.

Look, I forgot to draw the nostrils. See?

It is supposed to have
two nostrils here.

We forgot them, but it doesn't matter.


You missed it. Undo it.


- We have to do it again.
- Do everything again.

In a context becoming
more and more difficult,

the cinematographic productions
of Moustapha Alassane

had to stop for many years.

Can you tell us
how the two of you met?

This is the kind of question

we cannot answer.

- It's secret.
- No.

I met her just like that, by chance.

It's a long, long story.

A long story?

We can't tell it.

The story was not that long.

We were both pretty
so we got married.

Or maybe I was not pretty?

You saw that?

But time did wear us out.


There is a picture...

The pictures are all beautiful,
I don't know...

How could I pick only one?

These pictures are all great souvenirs.

Did you have a good life?

Or was there difficult
times in your life?

- No no no.
- No no no.

- Thanks God, no.
- Thanks God, no.

I can't complain.

- We are thankful to God.
- Yes.

Now we want a long life
and a good destiny for your children.

That's all.

We just want God
to let us live a bit longer.

Here we are. The fight has begun.

Watch out Damajeri!
Watch out Damajeri!

Watch for Kodo!

Kodo is no small wrestler!
Kodo is no small wrestler!

Be careful! Yes!

Damajeri grabs Kodo's feet!
He turns! He turns! He turns!

Will he fall on his back?
On his belly? We don't know.

The spectators are watching.

Damajeri throws Kodo.

Kodo did not fall.

He fell on his foot.

Kodo did not fall.

Kodo is angry. He is roaring.

He is crushing Damajeri.

He crushes him and won't let him go.

He won't.

He is crushing Damajeri,
he wants to force his submission.

Look! Be careful Damajeri! Damajeri!

Damajeri defeats Kodo
with an unexpected move!

The spectators are cheering,
applauding, they are happy.

The last fight will oppose Kodo

the talented wrestler from Kantchari,
who defeated Poukourou,

to Awawa, the great wrestler from Lila
who defeated Charou from Damachi.

Good luck to the wrestlers.

This is the fight of the titans.
This is the final.

It's the final!




Kodo will be hard to defeat.

Awawa too.

They are fighting.
Who will be the winner?

Awawa versus Kodo.

Awawa wants to grab him
but has no grip.

She can't grab Kodo.

Look at this!

Awawa grabs kodo's feet! His leg!
She let it go.

It's as difficult to catch as fire.

Kodo wants to end the fight.

Kodo approached and catches Awawa!

He lifts her! He lifts her!

He puts her down.

It's not possible. He put her down.

Awawa is angry.

As you know, when she is angry
her color changes.

Here! Here she is!
She became black.


And now she is red,
her favorite color.

Red like fire.

Kodo is not impressed, he says:
"Come, I'm not afraid of you!"

The spectators watch, astounded.

Who will win?

Awawa steps back and pulls Kodo.
She lifts him up in the air.

She turns with him!
She turns with him!

She throws him on his back!

Awawa defeated Kodo! Kodo lost!

He is surprised and defeated.

Is the commentator
mentioning the real rules?

That's how it's done.

In our movie,
we respect the rules of the game.

The speaker is giving
the rules of the game.

Did you show Kokoa
to real wrestlers?

No. Everybody in Niger has seen it.

It was so successful here!

Everybody has seen it.
They know it.

For this movie, you received
funding from France.

Most of my movies were
financially supported by France.

The contrary would be better,
but it is not the case.

I was never funded by Niger.
Not even once

After years of financial struggle

spent exploring
the unknown territories of IT,

the enfant terrible of
Nigerien cinema is back on screens.

After a life of wins and losses,

Moustapha Alassane gives himself
the pleasure to assist,

with his old friends the toads,
to a wrestling tournament,

of which he will be the organizer.

You have to do
everything that is possible.

Everything that is possible.

If our country has to opportunity to
grow onions and eat them,

go grow onions and eat them.

Then come to me and learn
how to make movies.

You will have your growing onions.

That will be your everyday activity.

Then you will learn
how to make movies.

It will give you more ideas.

New opportunities
that we are not aware of yet.

Cinema will reveal them.


you want to make movies,
come to me and say...

"I want to know how you work."
I'll show you my work and explain it.

Because you want to know it.

It will benefit everybody.

People will know that Moustapha is
in his faraway place, full of dust.

But he is still making movies.

You see this! We are working.

Look at this!

This give us so much work.

I hit it, look at the dust!

We always have to do it again,
clean it and such...

But it doesn't stop us from
making movies. We keep making them!

And we will always keep making movies.

Moussa not professional
of filmed westerns.

Along with Bana,
who is helping him.

Moussa not professional
of filmed westerns.

Along with Bana,
who is helping him.

He's led by the honor
of his beloved country.

And the development of our dear Niger.

This is not a dream. Not at all.

No, no, no.

We make things.

Things that make other people dream.

That's all.

This is extraordinary for the children.

It's beautiful.

Subtitles: tadanobu@KG
Correction: flipflink