After the screening of the documentary Les Vérités du Fou (The Madman's Truth) at this past weekend's African Film Festival Lausanne (Festival des Cinémas d'Afrique) we had the opportunity to speak with the director, Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba Diop.
The central character of Bamba Diop's film, Thierno Seydou Sall, is a "wandering poet"from the director's home country of Senegal. The film follows Sall - known for his subversive work and considered by some as the "village lunatic" - capturing his encounters with different individuals and groups of people in the country, the discourses and ideas he exchanges with them, encouraging them to question their social environment. His "madman" status came in part from the fact that Sall had spent some time in a mental hospital, something that he discusses readily and openly during the film. This, however, is not the primary reason he was considered mad. "He was one of the only people ‘crazy' enough to speak the truth," Bamba Diop says with a slight, but sly, smile.
As we begin our conversation, at first he seems a bit timid; but as he begins to speak more about his film - and the man at its centre - he becomes increasingly animated and passionate. "I followed him for years, he wasn't a very accessible guy. He had to get you, what motivated you, your process. Did you want him just to take advantage of his ‘madness'? To enrich yourself? What made you want to understand his personality? He made me chase him for years. The project took 10 years."
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