Film Review: Dialemi
This film is available to stream online on TV5 Monde Afrique.
Dialemi which is a Gabonese word for ‘my love’, is a short film about the slow endurance of creative block, the painful wait for inspiration and the beauty of finally finding it. A sculptor in his old age(whose role is played by Laurent Owondo, professor of literature at the University of Libreville, Gabon), lives in a wooden house near the sea. A stone sits anticipatively on his work desk waiting to be transformed into a finished sculpture. The man however can not get himself to work on it.
He paints a mask for a client and goes to help young children while they practice their craft. He puts off working on the sculpture because he can not find the perfect form he hopes to create. The raw audio and visual aspects of the film connect you to the artist and his pain. The sculpture represents his late lover and he pours much of the weight of her loss into sculpting it. He considers it priceless and will not offer it for sale.
Inspiration, ‘elle’(whose abstract role in the film is played by Prudence Maïdou), finds him, as he chisels with concentration at the stone, in a vision. He’s in shock and accidentally hurts himself. She leaves him still without inspiration. The sun sets and you see the sculptor smoking, waiting for another quiet, lonely day to come to an end.
Nadine Otsobogo, the director of the film portrays for us the empty, blurred vision from which beautiful art is born. The film is rich with African musical compositions that make each scene special and balance out the quiet solitude that surrounds the artist’s setting. We are clueless about what the sculpture will look like, and we are made aware that the sculptor is too. We hope the inspiration the artist is looking for will find him - and she, ‘elle’, does, in an intimate, comforting ‘rencontre’.
The 20 minute film is available to stream on TV5 Monde Afrique.
‘Dialemi’ won the 2014 Award for Best Short African Film at the African Movies Academy Awards held in Nigeria.