Albou takes directing honors for 'Song'

MADRID — Mama Keita’s “L’Absence,” a Senegal-set drama thriller, took the top Wind Griot at the 6th Tarifa African Film Festival, Spain’s most prominent window onto African filmmaking.

Seen at Rotterdam, “L’Absence” is written, directed and produced by Keita, a France-based Guinean-Vietnamese auteur.

As in Keita’s breakthrough feature, “The River,” “L’Absence” mixes a relationship drama with hard-boiled crime elements in the tale of a successful scientist who returns to his native Senegal to discover his sister’s embroiled in a prostitution racket.

Tarifa’s second prize, the Clay Griot — Griot is a name for a West African bard or wandering musician — for direction, went to Karin Albou’s “The Wedding Song,” one of the art film standouts at Unifrance’s Paris Rendez-Vous. Bringing an invigorating vision to a not often portrayed setting, Nazi-occupied Tunisia, pic explores the friendship between two girls with a groundbreaking sexual frankness for an Arab world-set pic.

South Africa swept the other top kudos with 11-year-old Sobahie Mkhabase winning actress for her role as an orphan seeking a better life in the big city in Madoda Ncayiyana’s crowd-pleasing “Izulu Iami,” which took the audience award. Lionel Newton (“In My Country”) won actor for his performance as a struggling white father in Michael Redburn’s “Triomf.”

Of multiple other kudos, African docu went to “J’ai tan aime,” from Morocco’s Dalila Ennadre, one of its leading femme documentary-makers in a country with a notable number of non-fiction woman directors. “Aime” turns on a Moroccan woman who worked in a French military brothel during the Indochine War.

Fest ran May 22-31.

And the winners were…
WIND GRIOT
“L’Absence,” Mama Keita (Senegal-France)
CLAY GRIOT
“The Wedding Song,” Karin Albou (Tunisia-France)
ACTRESS
Sobahie Mhabase, “Izulu Iami” (South Africa)
ACTOR
Lionel Newton, “Triomf,” (South Africa)
AUDIENCE AWARD
“Izulu Iami,” Madoda Ncayiyana (South Africa)
EBONY GRIOT FOR AFRICAN DOCUMENTARY
“J’ai tan aime,” Dalila Ennadre (Morocco-France)
SPECIAL MENTION, DOCUMENTARY CATEGORY
“Sea Point Days, Francois Vester, (South Africa)
SAND GRIOT, AFRICA-THEMED SPANISH DOCUMENTARY
“Princesa de Africa,” Juan Laguna

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