Behind the bright façade – an African ménage à trois in Marie Kâ’s L’Autre Femme

 L'Autre FemmeWhat strikes one right away in this erotic tale written, directed and produced by Vancouver filmmaker Marie Kâ, are a wide pallet of bright colours and ubiquitous sunshine.

Clothing, interiors and street life really are that colourful in Dakar, the location for the story, said Kâ, who grew up in Senegal and studied film in France and the US. So much so that the set design and wardrobe teams did such a good job of setting up the shop window with some of the costumes that local women were coming onto the set to inquire about the clothes.

The story of Madeleine, who finds unconventional ways to get to terms with her husband’s new, young, second wife, did not strike Kâ as an unusual constellation. 

Polygamous households are still relatively common in Senegal, especially in traditional families. Many married women have this thought in the back of their heads, that their husbands might decide to hook up with someone new, says Kâ.

That’s not much different from other countries, where men may take on mistresses, she says, except for the fact that in Senegal, men are expected to treat their wives equally. As Dakar – to the locals – is as expensive to live in as Vancouver is to us, imagine having to pay for two spouses with their demands for housing, food and child care!

But logistics aside, Kâ says she was primarily intrigued by the question why women are still accepting the tradition and how they deal with that other person in their lives.

L'Autre Femme

Though the twist in L’Autre Femme may be unconventional, Kâ didn’t have problems to cast her leading performers. Awa Sène Sarr, who stars as Madeleine, is so well known in Senegal, the street scenes had to be interrupted several times, as passers-by asked for autographs. She voiced Karaba the witch the in the world-renowned animation film Kirikou and the Sorceress.

Khady Ndiaye, who plays the second wife Amayelle, is nicknamed “Bijou” (Jewel) in Senegal and has her own TV show.

“It was my goal to make the actors feel close to the characters,” says Kâ, who scheduled two rehearsal days for the actors to feel fully safe about their performances.

filmmaker Marie Kâ

filmmaker Marie Kâ

L’Autre Femme was exec produced by Steven Markovitz as one of six shorts for the compilation film African Metropolis, a project supported by the German Goethe-Institut, the Dutch Hubert Bals Fund and the Nigerian Guaranty Trust Bank. L’Autre Femme got additional support by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie.

Kâ was mentored by French screenwriter Jacques Akchoti.

Kâ is the only female director of the compilation and has recently moved to Vancouver.

Women in Film + Television is proud that L’Autre Femme will open the Shorts that Shine showcase on Friday, March 7th at 4 p.m.

A Q&A, moderated by Margaret Gallagher of CBC Radio, follows the show.

By Katja De Bock

Ticket information here.

Don’t forget to #Daretotell us what attracts you about this film, to win one of our prizes in the social media contest.

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