The French-Mauritanian filmmaker Med Hondo has passed away in Paris at the age of 82. He gained international recognition with his Soleil Ô (1967), tackling French colonialism and imperialism. The film follows an African migrant in Paris suffering a mental breakdown when confronted with relentless racism.
Find out more about Med Hondo here at Sabzian.
“It was purely by chance that we ended up being artists ‘of colour’, as is the term usually used. In Paris together for basically the same reasons, Bachir, Touré, Robert and I found ourselves right in the middle of a country, a city, where we had to get by, for a lack of better words, where we had to work: being an actor, a musician, a singer. And where we realized immediately the doors were closed […]. As a solution we thought of creating a theater group and, in the meantime, we all made Soleil Ô. In order to make the film we had to overcome every bureaucratic and material obstacles, in other words, find a producer and tell him: ‘It’s the best story around, because we believe in it’. Like they say: ‘If you’re good at talking, you’re good at making film’. And so, we made Soleil Ô without money […]. All the scenes were based on reality. Because racism isn’t invented, especially in film. It’s like a kind of cloak put on you, that you’re forced to live with. Even the confession scene, at the beginning: in fact, in the Antilles, where I was born, they taught children that knowing how to speak Creole was a sin to confess. I know that the cinema you called cinéma-vérité has always avoid saying things of the kind. The only thing it has done in this sense is take black faces and mix them in the crowds. To demonstrate that as the West continues to expand itself economically, the more it will need black labor. And so Africa will always be an underdeveloped continent: saying the contrary is a lie […].”