In the run up to the Oscars, which will culminate in the famous ceremony on 27 March 2022, there is only one African film, The Last Shelter, a documentary by Malian filmmaker Ousmane Samassékou.
Nominated for the Oscar for best feature documentary, the 85-minute film was supported by the ACP-EU Culture Programme through the Clap-ACP fund of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF). It shows the different destinies that intersect in the migrants’ house in Gao (Mali), at the gateway to the desert. Between those who are about to embark on a trying journey across the desert, then the Mediterranean, and those who return after having failed, a closed-door story unfolds that speaks of utopias, hopes and courage, but also of the broken dreams and resignation of those seeking a better life.
The prospect of an Oscar crowns the exceptional career of this documentary, which has been selected for many festivals and won numerous prestigious awards. Upon its release, The Last Refuge won the Grand Prize at CPH:Dox, the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, before going on to win the Grand Prize for Best African Documentary Film at Encounters in South Africa, the Grand Jury Prize at Escales Documentaires in La Rochelle, France, and the Grand Jury Prize at Porto Doc in Portugal. It also won the Silver Tanit at the Carthage Cinema Days in Tunisia in early November.
Such international recognition represents much more than an appreciation of the very high cinematic quality of Ousmane Samassékou’s work. It celebrates one of the many talents of an African cinema that is still dynamic, resilient and inventive despite the difficulties facing the sector, which has been hit hard by the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also crystallizes the hopes and ambitions of a whole generation of young people attracted by the professional prospects offered by cinema, audiovisual and more generally the cultural industries.