Med Hondo

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Med Hondo
Mohamed Abid Hondo

(1936-05-04)4 May 1936
Died2 March 2019(2019-03-02) (aged 82)
Paris, France
Occupationfilm director, producer, screenwriter, actor and voice actor
Years active1967–2013

Med Hondo (born Mohamed Abid Hondo; 4 May 1936 – 2 March 2019) was a Mauritanian film director, producer, screenwriter, actor and voice actor. He emigrated to France in 1959 and began to work in film during the 1960s. He received critical acclaim for his 1967 directorial début Soleil O.


Hondo was born in 1936 in Ain Oul Beri Mathar in the Atar region of Mauritania. His mother was Mauritanian and his father Senegalese.[1][2] In 1954 Hondo went to Rabat, Morocco, to train to become a chef at the International Hotel School there.[1][3] He emigrated to France in 1959 and found work first in Marseille and then in Paris, variously as a cook, farm labourer, waiter, dockworker and delivery man.[1][2] He found that he and other African immigrants were unable to find jobs in their chosen professions, and in the menial jobs they could find, they were paid less than the French.[3] The difficulty of making a living during this time, as well as the racism he experienced, eventually provided inspiration for his films, including Soleil O and Les 'bicots-Nègres' vos voisins.[4]

Hondo began to take classes in acting and directing, and studied under French actress Françoise Rosay, acting in classic plays by Shakespeare, Molière and Jean Racine.[1][3] He was unable to fully express himself with French repertoire theatre, and in 1966 formed his own theatre company with Guadeloupean actor Robert Liensol.[1][4] Named Shango (from Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder), and later Griot-Shango, the company produced plays relating the experiences of Black people, including works by René Depestre and Aimé Césaire.[1][3][5]

In the late 1960s, Hondo started taking small roles in television and films.[6] He began to learn the craft of film making by careful observation of the work of others, and began to get work behind the camera.[4][6] He began work on his first film, Soleil O, in 1965.[7] Made on a $30,000 budget, it was financed by Hondo's work dubbing American films into French.[8] Soleil O played during International Critics' Week at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim.[9] It received a Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno International Film Festival.[10] In 1981 he was a member of the jury at the 12th Moscow International Film Festival.[11]

Some of Hondo's acting work was as voice actor, in films and television series such as Funky Cops and Asterix and the Vikings. He has worked on the dubbing of many English language films into French, voicing characters of Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover (on the rare occasions when he was not dubbed by actor Richard Darbois), Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley.[1] He has dubbed several of Eddie Murphy's films, including The Nutty Professor and the part of Donkey in 2001's Shrek.[12][13]

Med Hondo explained on his website[14] that he met with Danny Glover in 1991 and presented his then-current project to him: a biopic of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture. An enthusiastic Glover voiced his interest in the lead role, Hondo says, and in taking part in the production, but then cut all communication with Hondo and co-writer Claude Veillot. Hondo now claims that Glover's current Louverture biopic project, financially backed by Hugo Chavez, was inspired by his own original screenplay and Hondo addressed an open letter to Glover in which he denies assertions from Glover's "Louverture Films" company that the script was a commission paid by Glover to Hondo. Hondo also mentions his meeting with Glover in an English-language interview on French international news channel France 24.[15]

Hondo died in Paris on 2 March 2019.[16]






  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Biography, official site.
  2. ^ a b Sherzer (1996), p. 173.
  3. ^ a b c d Ukadike (2002), p. 57.
  4. ^ a b c Sherzer (1996), p. 174.
  5. ^ Murphy (2007), p. 71.
  6. ^ a b Ukadike (2002), p. 58.
  7. ^ Sherzer (1996), p. 175.
  8. ^ Reid (1986).
  9. ^ Harvard Film Archive.
  10. ^ Locarno International Film Festival official site.
  11. ^ "12th Moscow International Film Festival (1981)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d l'Humanité (1997).
  13. ^ a b Canadian Online Explorer (2002).
  14. ^ Med Hondo's open letter to Danny Glover Archived 23 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine (French and English).
  15. ^ "Med Hondo, filmmaker and actor - France 24". France 24. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Décès à Paris du cinéaste mauritanien Med Hondo". Retrieved 16 March 2019.



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