Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness)
Heremakono (Waiting for Happiness)Original Title: Heremakono
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako
Mauritania, France | Hassaniya, Bambara, French
Abderrahmane Sissako’s stunning film is a portrait of a transit city on the western African coast, a satirical meditation on globalization. At the edge of the vast Mauritanian desert lies the small coastal town of Nouadhibou. Seventeen-year-old Abdallah is visiting his mother there before emigrating to Europe. Unable to speak the local language, the young man finds himself a stranger in his own country. Yet, he becomes involved in the lives of the inhabitants of this strange and unfamiliar world.
Sissako was born in Mauritania and grew up in neighboring Mali, in northwest Africa. He lived for ten years in Moscow, where he studied film. Heremakono is set in the coastal village where the Sahara Desert and the Atlantic Ocean—the path to Europe—meet. Sissako himself stayed there before proceeding to Moscow. Abdallah, the 17-year-old boy who stops in Nouadhibou in the film, on his way, presumably to Moscow, is perhaps inspired by Sissako’s own experience.
Sissako’s poetic and beautifully photographed film is a sensitive and poignant look at the conflict between tradition and progress. Heremakono won the International Critics’ Prize at Cannes in 2002, the Grand Prize at the 2003 Pan-African Film Festival in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and the best film prize at the 2003 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.