A cinematic gold digger
by Bénédicte Prot
Although Rêves de poussière (lit. "Dreams of Dust") shows the harsh reality of Burkinese gold diggers who risk their lives every day in precarious shafts in the hopes of finding the gold nugget that will allow them to go back home rich men, and despite the fact that this project started as a documentary, it is above all a fictional film, a beautiful tale dug out by Laurent Salgues on a continent he loves, which Venice Days audiences unanimously agreed was one of the most splendid and poetic films on the Lido.
In Rêves de poussière, Salgues courageously (for it is not always easy to get producers to agree to such long shots) favours the power of images and succeeds in building the narrative solely on visual elements. The hero's gradual descent into a hell of white dust is emphasised, silently, by the contrast between the proud way he carries himself in the beginning and his limping slowly, alone in the wasteland he knows he will probably never leave.
In the film, the idea of a permanent state of slavery (for the gold diggers always work for someone else) is suggested by the image of the workers' pounding in a regular rhythm, like their ancestors who once rowed in galleys. The fact that Africans often live with their ghosts is expressed here through a lingering on empty places once peopled by parents and children now gone.
As lead actor Makena Diop pointed out after the screening, this film truly respects the rhythm of life and yet is such a rich narrative that it could last for hours without audiences even noticing.
Salgues's debut feature was produced by Sahélis and Athenaïse productions, who are also handling international sales. The director promised a camel ride to any distributor interested in buying his film.
(Translated from French)
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