The Little Girl who sold the sun

La petite vendeuse de soleil

Djibril Mambety Diop, Senegal, 1998


The scene begins with a very slow lateral tracking shot, in very wide shot: The film-maker deliberately sets a cinematographic and also geographical frame: he sets his fiction in the heart of a big city in Africa, where he unveils reality while filming backwards from exoticism. We are here on the outskirt of a city with a complex architecture, mixing modern buildings, factories, huts made of recycling materials, swarming city, with congested accesses (huge packed car park). A sudden change in the shot scale gets us closer to the characters (whom voices we heard): a group of kids selling newspapers to the drivers. The frequent axis change and the choice of the long focus enable to catch daily images of Dakar’s inhabitants. They also put to the light how the little newspapers sellers expose themselves to real danger. They seem to be filmed without knowing. We identify the young film hero (the little girl on crutches) mixed with them, when we watched the beginning of the film, otherwise, she blends into the group, we can decide. The children are gathered around the highway guard rail, and hidden away by the constant cars driving past full speed, giving the feeling of their vulnerability and of the constant threat that hangs over them. Through those very lively and animated shots, the film-maker witnesses life precariousness within a big anonymous city, within which each, including children, tries to get through the day.