Still from 'Baamum Nafi'

Mamadou Dia on His Stunning Film 'Baamum Nafi'

The film is a piercing look at religious extremism in West Africa with shades of Trump's America.

In 2012, the ancient Malian city of Timbuktu was captured by Islamist extremists. During the months of violence and intimidation that followed, rebels destroyed large numbers of centuries-old cultural landmarks and artifacts including one of the sealed inner doors of the 15th-century Sidi Yahya Mosque, an act believed to bring on the end of the world.

In 2016, Mamadou Dia, a journalist who had covered the fall of Timbuktu, was studying film at NYU. He had been working on a script for a film set in his hometown, Matam, a small town in northern Senegal. Inspired by the neorealist work of directors such as Abderrahmane Sissako and Alain Gomis, Dia set out to write a film inspired by his own upbringing as the son and grandson of imams. But after Trump's election, Dia's attention shifted to the parallels he saw between the religious fundamentalism that plagued Timbuktu and the right-wing extremism that had captured the United States.

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