La vie sur terre (Life on Earth)is one of the most searching and at the same time poetic meditations on Africa at the beginning of a new millennium to have appeared in any medium. It was conceived as part of 2000 Vue Par, a European television series which invited ten outstanding independent producers to imagine the last day of the present century in their own countries. Sissako’s specific challenge therefore was to make a film about the significance of the start of the 21st century for people still struggling to enter the 20th; in other words, to show Africa’s simultaneous connection to and isolation from modernity, our so-called Information Age. His solution, the most innovative and critically admired of any of films in the series, was to improvise a “fictional documentary” out of daily life in Sokolo, his father’s village in Mali near the southeastern corner of Mauritania. He then overlaid these vignettes with readings from Aimé Césaire, locating them within the poet’s critique of the relationship between metropole and periphery. Behind all of this, he weaves the melancholy tones of the great Malian tenor, Salif Keita.
The film earned Sissako awards at the Fribourg International Film Festival, the Ouagadougou Panafrican Film and Television Festival and the San Francisco International Film Festival.
-California News Reel