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Mati Diop Becomes First Black Woman With a Film in the Cannes Film Festival Competition Section

Mati Diop Becomes First Black Woman With a Film in the Cannes Film Festival Competition Section

French-Senegalese actress and director Mati Diop is making history as the first Black woman to have a film in the Cannes Film Festival competition, reports Essence.

This May, Diop’s film “Atlantique,” will compete for one of the top prizes, the Palme d’Or. Her film will also make her the first woman debut filmmaker in competition since Julia Leigh in 2011.

According to Variety, Diop’s film is “set in a suburb of Dakar and follows a woman who’s in love with a young worker who disappears at sea, then returns with several colleagues to haunt their old neighborhood.”

While Diop’s latest film has raised her profile to some, she certainly isn’t a newcomer in Hollywood. IndieWire reports that in 2012, Diop first received recognition from cinema enthusiasts for her work as an actress and writer in Antonio Campos’ crime drama “Simon Killer,” which she won the AFI Fest Special Mention for Performance award. Prior to her work in “Simon Killer,” the young actress starred in the French drama “35 Shots of Rhum” alongside actor Alex Descas.

But, in addition to making a lane for herself, Diop is also known as the niece of the late legendary filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety, who won the International Critics Award at Cannes for his 1972 film “Touki Bouki.” To continue his legacy, Diop explored her uncle’s work in a 2013 documentary that she directed called “A Thousand Suns.”

Currently, IndieWire reports that Diop and Malian filmmaker Ladj Ly are the only filmmakers of African descent to compete at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival this year.