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From left to right: Mati Diop, Ladj Ly, Mounia Meddour and Maryam Touzani.

4 African Directors Have Been Selected to Present Films at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival

Senegalese-French filmmaker Mati Diop and Mali's Ladj Ly are the only Africans featuring their work in the Competition program.

The 72nd Festival de Cannes returns in May to continue its mission to draw attention to and raise the profile of films on an international level. The festival announced the official lineup Thursday, where we found only four African filmmakers set to present their work at the festival's various programs.

Mati Diop, Senegalese-French filmmaker and the niece of Touki Bouki's Djibril Diop Mambéty, as well as Malian filmmaker Ladj Ly are the only Africans set to enter their films in the Competition program.


Diop will be presenting her feature film directorial debut Atlantique at Cannes. According to Indie Wire, this makes her the first black woman in the festival's 72-year history to be selected in the program. All eyes will be on her at Cannes this year—learn more about her career here.

Ly will be presenting Les Misérables, a film based on 2005 police violence in his French neighborhood of Cité des Bosquets in Clichy Montfermeil. Ly is also an actor and the director of the Kourtrajmé collective.

Two directors with roots in North Africa will be presenting films in the Un Certain Regard program—Algeria's Mounia Meddour with Papicha and Morocco's Maryam Touzani with Adam.

Meddour moved to France at 18 after her formative years in Algeria due to threats her family received during the Algerian Civil War. With a background in journalism and film, she landed her first award-winning short in 2011 with Edwidge.

Touzani was born and raised in Tangier, Morocco and is also a screenwriter and an actor. Working alongside her filmmaker husband, Nabil Ayouch, Touzani takes on sexuality, women's rights and even questions the makings of a conservative society through her work.

Stay tuned for more Cannes updates—and visit their website for more information about this year's festival.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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