We are delighted to be partnering with Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) to cover the films featuring in this year’s programme.  DIFF 2024 runs 22nd February – 2nd March. Explore the programme and get tickets here
As part of this year’s Dublin International Film Festival, the Silver Screen Critics give their thoughts on Banel & Adama.

Mutale Kampuni

This is a romantic love story set in a West African village, centring on a young couple (Banel and Adama) who openly delight in each other’s company. The film begins on a positive note, following the two as they set about their daily lives, content and dreaming of leaving the family fold to live happily ever after on their own terms.

Love for one another appears to render Banel and Adama oblivious to the realities around them, including obligations and expectations of the elders and other inhabitants of their community. There is beauty all around, in the simplicity of the landscape, bright rainless skies, and dunes of sand where Banel and Adama dig to unearth houses buried under the compacted layers. . .

Traditions of the village require that Adama takes on the title of village chief following the death of his older brother, a role Adama is quite unwilling to step into. His outright refusal to accept the role is not received well, and neither is his decision to stay away from prayers. From here on, natural disasters descend upon the land. Lack of rain and an ensuing drought results in loss of livestock and human life. Adama’s relationship with Banel is implied as the reason for this state of affairs, and the two are assigned tasks ensuring they spend most of each day apart (Banel to help the women with laundry, Adama tending to animals).

In her isolation, Banel shoots at birds and small animals, killing them with a slingshot and burning their carcasses in a fire. She appears to lose her mind and shouts at a little boy who she accuses of following her around and reading her thoughts. She mistakes her own tears and sweat for raindrops. Banel appears to descend into a delirium where reality, dreams and myth are indistinguishable. Highly dramatic scenes at the end of the movie draw viewers too, into the mix of sandstorm and hysteria. The end is inconclusive and open to whatever interpretation one chooses to make of it. A visually engaging and thought provoking film, I would recommend it as worth watching.

Maureen Bushe

In a small, rural village in Senegal, Banel and her second husband Adama are very much in love. The fields are green, there are fish in the river and the cattle are thriving with plenty of water. The clothes are bright and colourful. The couple want to spend more time on their own together and, as a project of sorts, they start to unearth houses outside the village that were once buried in a sandstorm.

When Adama’s father, the village chief, dies tribal custom dictates that his bloodline now makes him the new village chief… but this means living in the village and that didn’t suit the young lovers’ dreams, so he refuses. How does romantic love and a struggle for freedom, manage social conventions?

When the expected rains don’t arrive, despite all the prayers, there is a drought. The land is hot and parched. Crops die. Cattle die. People die and others must leave. Both Banel and Adama become busy, just surviving, with no spare time to unearth the dream houses or spend time together. They questions if Allah just testing them? (‘If Allah wills it’) or is it because Adama hadn’t accepted chiefdom?

Everything in this film moves very, very slowly. The music supports the action, veering from eerie, gentle, wistful, stirring, to sinister. Banel & Adama is filmed beautifully. These powerful visuals highlight the impact of climate change; the narrative depicted is memorable, upsetting, but very important.

Peter Bodie

Set in a small village in Senegal, this is a slow-moving, placid movie punctuated by undertones of smouldering anger, resentment, and deep frustration. Although in her early twenties, the main character Banel is on her second marriage. Her first (pre-arranged) marriage ended in the death of her first husband. His days ended in the village well. There is a hint of her culpability – but this issue is never explored.

With her second husband Adama (a love match), Banel’s days are filled with cattle herding, backbreaking cotton picking, tending to children  that are not hers as well as cooking and laundry. The only compensation is an occasional swim in the river. Even that activity is tainted by the myth that ‘The Sirens’ have forbidden people to bathe in the waters.

Tradition, religion, and gender roles restrain Banel. She is penned in by family obligations. She yearns to establish her own identity, free of her mother and brother. Banel expresses her resentment towards her lot in life by expertly using a slingshot to pointlessly hunt local song birds. If only the obsessive heat would break and the vital rains return. Banel’s goal is to restore a house that has long been covered in desert sand – the result of a sand storm. But Banel has no time to work on her dream house. She survives by dreaming about her future with Adama and her longed for house.

More tension is created because Adama is not inclined to take on his hereditary obligations and become the village chief. Banel is caught in a cycle of waiting. She needs something of a miracle to get her life on her desired track. The miracle duly arrives but with unanticipated results. This film provides an interesting insight into the life of a young Senegalese couple. This is worth your time but not a must see. It’s also important to note the cast are non-professional actors.

Banel & Adama screens at DIFF on 23rd February. 



DIFF 2024 Podcast: Silver Screen Critics Discussion



Dublin International Film Festival (DIFF) is Ireland’s premier film event, dedicated to presenting the best in contemporary and classic world cinema. It brings the world to Ireland and showcases Ireland to the world. With a rich history spanning several decades, DIFF showcases a diverse selection of films, hosts industry events, and fosters a vibrant film culture in Dublin.

Over the past 22 years, it has screened more than 1,600 international films from over 52 countries. The Festival has hosted over 600 high profile guests, including Al Pacino, Angela Lansbury, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Danny DeVito, Ennio Morricone, Joss Whedon, Julie Andrews, Kristin Scott Thomas, Stanley Tucci, and Stellan Skarsgård.

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Gemma Creagh is a writer, filmmaker and journalist. In 2014 she graduated with a First from NUIG’s MA Writing programme. Gemma’s play Spoiling Sunset was staged in Galway as part of the Jerome Hynes One Act Play series in 2014. Gemma was one of eight playwrights selected for AboutFACE’s 2021 Transatlantic Tales and is presently developing a play with the Axis Theatre and with the support of the Arts Council. She has been commissioned to submit a play by Voyeur Theatre to potentially be performed in Summer 2023 as part of the local arts festival. Gemma was the writer and co-producer of the five-part comedy Rental Boys for RTÉ’s Storyland. She has gone on to write, direct and produce shorts which screened at festivals around the world. She was commissioned to direct the short film, After You, by Filmbase and TBCT. Gemma has penned articles for magazines, industry websites and national newspapers, she’s the assistant editor for Film Ireland and she contributes reviews to RTE Radio One’s Arena on occasion.

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