The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, March 22-28

nyc repertory-little girl who sold the sun

The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun (1999)
Directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty
At only 42 minutes, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s parting gift extols the weight of youthful generosity and autonomy. Mambéty, who fell to lung cancer in 1998, bequeathed a body of humanitarian cinema: heartfelt glimpses of Senegalese citizens striving to live. Heavily employing non-actors, Mambéty’s works spike naturalism with magical realism and jagged experimentation. And what better conveyance of that method than through a young child roughly emerging into womanhood, waving small victory flags in oppressive surroundings? The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun blends the harsh conditions of a neocolonialist nation—which, despite being marked by capitalism, is overrun by enormous poverty—with the hope and ambition of Sili (Lissa Balera), a newcomer in the rabid rat race of prepubescent news hawkers. To feed her grandmother, Sili is an outsider in a field populated by aggressive boys, who greet their new and humble competition with hostility. Rather than bemoan the inherent sexism and materialism passed to younger generations, Mambéty chooses hope, concluding that perceived ills can be configured into bolsters, be it in a brief dance for a boombox or matching your flowing dress with killer yellow shades. And if Ashley Clark says it’s cool, then… Max Kyburz (March 28, 7:30pm at Light Industry, presented by critic and programmer Ashley Clark alongside Helen Levitt’s 1948 short In the Street, and Lionel Ngakane’s 1965 short Jemima + Johnny)

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