Skip to main content
Classics and discoveries from around the world, thematically programmed with special features, on a streaming service brought to you by the Criterion Collection.
Directed by Souleymane Cissé • 1987 • Mali
Starring Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare
This adaptation of an ancient oral legend from Mali is one the most acclaimed and widely seen African films ever made. An Oedipal story infused with magic, YEELEN is as visually stunning as anything from Hollywood. Set in the powerful Mali Empire of the thirteenth century, the film follows the journey of Nianankoro, a young warrior who must battle the powerful Komo cult. Nianankoro’s greatest enemy is his own father, a dangerous and corrupt wizard who uses his dark magic to try and destroy his son. Traveling over the arid Bambara, Fulani, and Dogan lands of ancient West Africa, Nianankoro eventually comes face to face with his father in a fatal showdown. Cissé’s extraordinary use of landscapes and light produces a unique and striking cinematic style.