The crackling of the weapons, then the music plunges the audience into the action. Saloum is violent, funny and scary, all at the same time.
A sort of western, this thriller film features three ruthless mercenaries on the run after a coup d'etat with a big haul and a drug lord as hostage.
But Saloum is much more than a film, a description shared by one of the lead actors in the film Mentor Ba.
"It is a film that represents many things. This film will be a turning point because it is a film that tells an African story, created by Africans, played by Africans and produced by Africans. It is therefore a decisive turning point for African cinema, which shows another face of Africa".
Saloum is a story where revenge and mysticism flirt constantly. In the background, the murderous madness of three mercenaries that awakens the dark side of ancestral spirits. A pure delight for an excited and thrilled audience.
"I am really impressed... It's really a magical thing, a crazy thing even.... To see such a good Senegalese film with such good actors, a film production, the actions, the image quality, the sound, a very nice surprise." Fatou Morgana who saw the premiere said.
Africanews correspondent Wahany Sambo reports that the movie has so far recorded "twenty selections in festivals on four continents, boasts of renowned actors, and has already hit hard even before its release in theaters''. This fabulous "southern" has been playing in seventeen French-speaking African countries since August 3, and Dakar had the privilege of opening the ball, Sambo added.
The film stars Yann Gael, Mentor Ba and Roger Sallah in the lead roles whereas Evelyne Ily Juhen, Bruno Henry, and Marielle Salmier made supportive roles. The storyline revolves around Bangui's Hyenas, an elite trio of mercenaries that extract a drug dealer and his bricks amidst of Guinea-Bissau's coup d'état of 2003.
Saloum is the final sequence of a dream of its producer, the Senegalese Pamela Diop.
"This is my dream, to make movies from all that we have to offer in Senegal. I personally think that we are sitting on a treasure. There are many films coming out, so I'm not the first, I am only a participant; this is my dream. It's been my dream for a very long time, the first time I was on a fiction set, fifteen years ago. It took fifteen years to make this first film and I'm glad".
And for a first, the producers of Saloum have every reason to be proud of this little masterpiece. But they are not relenting. They have already set their eyes on even bigger projects, they say.