Souleymane Cissé
in Postcolonial African cinema
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The Malian film director Souleymane Cissé is known for his breathtaking film Yeelen, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1987. Yeelen clearly marks the culmination of an artistic journey away from the naturalism of his earlier works such as Den Muso or Baara. Yeelen may be an example of the 'postcolonial exotic' but it also contributes to the oppositional discourse of postcolonialism. Cissé's work is praised or criticised by critics for having abandoned his early social realism in favour of a more symbolic and less direct narrative form. Even in Finyé, the film in which he refers most explicitly to specific political events, the precise demands of the student protestors are never clearly articulated; rather it is the symbolic significance of their stance that counts. This allows his films to be read as 'human' stories, which has had a profound effect on the critical reception of his work.

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