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VHS cover
Directed by Souleymane Cissé
Produced by Souleymane Cissé
Written by Souleymane Cissé
Starring Issiaka Kane
Aoua Sangare
Niamanto Sanogo
Music by Salif Keita
Michel Portal
Cinematography Jean-Noël Ferragut
Jean-Michel Humeau
Release dates
May 1987 (premiere at Cannes)
14 April 1989 (USA, limited)
Running time
105 min.
Country Mali / Burkina Faso / France / West Germany
Language Bambara, Fula

Yeelen (Bambara for "brightness"/"light") is a 1987 Malian film directed by Souleymane Cissé. It is filmed in the Bambara and Fula languages, and is based on a legend told by the Bambara people. Though the era is undefined, it is presumably set in the 13th century in the Mali Empire and is a heroic quest narrative featuring magic and precognition.

It stars Issiaka Kane as Niankoro, a young African man who possesses magical powers. Niamanto Sanogo plays Niankoro's father, who is tracking his son through the Bambara, Fulani and Dogon lands of West Africa using a magical wooden post to guide him.

Yeelen was met with wide critical success, and was awarded the Jury Prize at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival.[1] It was also nominated for the Golden Palm award for the same year.



  • It was ranked #94 in Empire magazine's "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010.[2]


  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Yeelen". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  2. ^ "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema | 93. The Fourth Man". Empire. 

Samuel Lelièvre, La Lumière de Souleymane Cissé. Cinéma et Culture, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2013 (ISBN 978-2-343-00201-9).

See Wikipedia French article at for bibliographical references.

External links[edit]