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BERLINALE 2012 Competition / France

Tey: journey to the end of the life


Tey: journey to the end of the life

The second day of the competition at the 62nd Berlinale kicked off with a lively walk through the streets of an unidentified Senegalese town, the hometowm of Satché, the hero of Tey [+see also:
film profile
by Franco-Senegalese director Alain Gomis.

The premise is original but worrying: for unimportant reasons that we ignore, Satché, played by actor and musician Saül Williams, discovers that he only has 24 hours to live despite being in the prime of life. He decides to redraw his life and his town, to which he has returned after 15 years abroad.

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In this space and lapse of time, in appearance very limited, Satché, whom we never leave, lives through a series of scenes that represent various moments and relationships in his life. As he reunites with his family, his old friends, his mistress, his wife and children, as well as the people of his country (the protesters who have had “enough”, the bread seller who is also supporting himself through a degree in theology), he is alternatively treated as a hero whose name they proclaim, rejected, reintergrated into the country where he was born and where he has chosen to die, and then seen as a stranger again. The diverse situations and relationships evoked make the film, whose dialogues are as meaningful as they are spread out, a subtle and nuanced mosaique, like a whole life.

This colourful fable (not only visually, but also in its narration through the images used by the people to whom Satché speaks) is a reflection on existence, its begining, and its end. As it does not aim to be exotic, it is the most authentic of journeys in a fascinating universe with its particular rhythms, noises, and silences. Throughout Satché’s last day, we are very conscious of how he sees his life, of how others see him, and therefore of how we, members of a non-African audience, see him. Like Satché, we feel immersed and estranged at the same time. It is a feeling that reflects Tey’s diverse coproduction, that brings together French companies Granit Film, Maïa Cinéma, and Agora Films , with Senegalese production company Cinekap.

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(Translated from French)

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