Museum of the Moving Image, New York, United States
18 Mar 2023
Dir. Alassane Diago. Senegal/France/Germany. 2022, 105 mins. In French, Wolof, and Arabic with English subtitles. DCP. By the southern bank of the river demarcating the official border between Mauritania and Senegal, filmmaker Diago convenes an open-air assembly of Black Mauritanians who, in 1989, were expelled from their homeland by a racialist Arab-controlled government under the cover of a war between the two countries.
There follows an outpouring of testimonies revealing the atrocities inflicted by Mauritanians upon their own. Captured with a hushed, patient reserve by cinematographer Michel K. Zongo, Diago’s film acutely keys into each survivor’s physical presence, registering facial tics, vocal mannerisms, and emphatic gestures, such that the subtlest changes in mood and tone become major events in this riveting collective performance of truth without reconciliation.
Alassane Diago is a Senegalese filmmaker based in Paris. His first feature documentary Les larmes de l’émigration (2010), which won several awards, was followed by the short films Tristesse dans un bar et Dégoût à l’épicerie (2012) and La vie n’est pas immobile (2012), the feature film Tribunal du flueve (2017), and the documentary Rencontrer mon père (2018). The River is Not A Border was selected by Locarno Film Festival, IDFA.