Cinema: the documentary “Dahomey” wins the Golden Bear at the Berlin festival

This Saturday, February 24, the Berlinale crowned a Franco-Senegalese director, Mati Diop, for a documentary on the burning issue of the restitution by former colonial powers of works of art stolen in Africa.

Franco-Senegalese filmmaker and actress Mati Diop speaks during a press conference for the film “Dahomey” presented in competition at the 74th Berlinale, February 18, 2024. AFP - ODD ANDERSEN

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By rewarding a film which directly addresses the post-colonial question, the jury chaired by Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o, the first black personality to occupy this prestigious position, remained faithful to the political tradition of this festival.


As a Franco-Senegalese, Afro-descendant filmmaker, I have chosen to be one of those who refuse to forget, who refuse amnesia as a method

 ,” declared Mati Diop when receiving her prize.


I stand in solidarity with the Senegalese who are fighting for democracy and justice

 ,” she added, before also displaying her “ 

solidarity with Palestine



recounts the restitution in November 2021 in Benin of 26 works looted in 1892 by French colonial troops.

A movement started over the last five years by the former Western powers, including France, Germany and Belgium.

Prominent young female directors

Mati Diop, daughter of a Senegalese musician,

Wasis Diop

, and a mother working in art, who was born and raised in Paris, had already won

 the Grand Prix, the highest distinction, in Cannes in 2019 for


after the Palme d'Or.

This is the second African film to receive the Golden Bear, after the South African

U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha

(“Carmen of Khayelitsha”) by Mark Dornford-May in 2005. It succeeds the Frenchman Nicolas Philibert, Golden Bear last year.

Mati Diop also adds her name to a young guard of French directors who have won major awards in recent years with Julia, Audrey Diwan, Alice Diop, and of course Justine Triet, who has just dominated the Césars after winning the Palme d'Or last year at Cannes, and is in the running for the Oscars.

French filmmaker Bruno Dumont won the jury prize for


, released Wednesday in French theaters.




Also read “Dahomey” by Mati Diop, the film which traces the restitution of the royal treasures of Abomey


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