Mati Diop Becomes The First Black Woman To Be Awarded At Cannes Film Festival

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Mati Diop, French-Senegalese actress and director (AFP)
Mati Diop, French-Senegalese actress and director (AFP)

On Saturday, 25th of May, French-Senegalese actress and director,  Mati Diop, has become the first black female director to win an award in Cannes Film Festival since it’s 72 years of existence.

Diop took home the Grand Prix , an equivalent of a silver prize, for her film ‘Atlantics’, a Senegalese set drama that skillfully merges social consciousness with the supernatural in a tale of sexual politics among young migrants.

The Grand Prix award, bestowed by the jury of the festival on one of the competing feature films, is the second-most prestigious prize of the festival after the Palme d’Or.

Mati Diop,first black woman to win awards at the Cannes Film Festival (Photo credit: Getty)
Mati Diop, first black woman to win awards at the Cannes Film Festival (Photo credit: Getty)

Speaking about being the first black woman to win to Award, 36-year-old Mati Diop told the Independent that despite being grateful for winning, she was a “little sad” to make history as the first woman of African descent to even have a film screened at the festival.

She said;

“My first feeling to be the first black female director was a little sadness that this only happened today in 2019… I knew it as I obviously don’t know any black women who came here before, and I knew it but it’s always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still,”

According to a juror, Elle Fanning at the post-awards press conference ;

“That film touched us in our hearts… It deals with issues, but it also felt quite personal and vulnerable and very emotional and just quite precious.”

In an interview earlier this month with The Hollywood Reporter, Mati Diop has revealed that the nature of the film, had given her anxiety. Only if she had known that it was the nature pf the film that’ll get her award. She said;

“I began to ask some questions like, was my film really being accepted for what it was? Was it being heard for what it had to say? Or was the fact that I’m a woman filmmaker also a factor that played in this process?”

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