The initiation – Mali – Africa -1999

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Italian – English

Produce by
RAI 3  in collaborazione con  M.K.Production

Ilaria Freccia  Alessandra Speciale

Ilaria Freccia

Andrea Turri

Adriano  Tagliari


The necessity to point out the internal social conflicts in Mali, always half way between tradition and desire to be modern, were outlined during the shooting of the documentary. Feminine mutilation is a long-standing tradition in Mali, probably 90% of the women have endured it,  and the same happens in the rest of Africa, but one can’t deny that there is a revisionist movement which tries to fight it and to change the mentality from which it springs. The strenuous struggle sustained by AMSOPT (Association Malienne pour la Survie et l’Orientation des Pratiques Traditionelles) a local NGO against this practice is difficult to obtain especially in the  remote villages where the argument is still considered taboo. But the support of the most progressive Imams, the sanitary personnel’s action, shows us a country which desperately tries to find a new indentity without losing its strong ties with tradition. The complexity of the subject and the difficulties encountered during the shooting, induced us to divide it into three separate episodes the film. In the first and second episode the facts told are underline by interviews which attempt to understand some of the complexities of this ancient tradition. The third episode the videocamera simply films the daily life of an “exciseuse” and the traditional rite of infibulation.

“Ousmane journey”
Ousmane, a student of gynecology at the University of Bamako is a rural sanitary agent. At his side a group of women members of the AMSOPT organization strenuously fight to make the population concious of the danger of feminine genital mutilation on women’s health.
At the market, in the schools, in the streets, Ousmane and the AMSOPT women try to establish a dialogue with the people so as to understand the real motives of the percistency of this ancient tradition.

«The cerimony»
Baga is a blacksmith’s wife, she is by tradition an “exciseuse” and has practiced circumcision for twenty years. One day a group of women ask her to organize a circumcision ceremony. On the eve of the rite, the entire community celebrates with songs and dances. But the following day the little girl circumcised by Baga dies of a hemorrhage. For Assita’, the midwife, this tragic event is a good opportunity for convincing the village chief and the “exciseuse” to stop this practice once and for all.

The deceit”
On the border between Mali and Senegal, various tribes protect their women’s virginity by practicing infibulation. That’s Adjaratou’s job. She lives on the outskirts of a small town on the Senegal River. On a Wednesday Adjaratou goes to fetch Attou in a nearby village. She is a five-year-old girl. Thursday at dawn, she will be infibulated. Attou knows nothing of what will happen to her; she thinks Adjaratou to be a hairdresser, who will fix up her hair for her, first day of school.

Festival dei Popoli 2000
Primo premio
miglior documentario