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Saloum – TIFF21

saloum

Saloum – TIFF21

Synopsis:
2003, three mercenaries extracting a druglord out of Guinea-Bissau are forced to hide in the mystical region of Saloum, Senegal.
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A group of mercenaries end taking refuge in a mysterious region of Senegal in . Guinea-Bissau's coup d'état of 2003, the mercenary group Bangui's Hyenas consisting of Chaka (), Rafa (), and Minuit (), extract cartel member Felix (Renaud Farah) and his cargo of gold and drugs, with the group boarding a plane towards Dakar. However, when the plane runs out of fuel, the group has to make a crash landing, with Chaka recommending his old home in the Sine-Saloum Delta. Taking shelter at a camp run by Omar (Bruno Henry), the Hyenas plan to lay low for a few days, while they repair and refuel the plane. However, the group's safety is put at risk with the arrival of suspicious police captain Souleymane (Ndiaga Mbow) and the enigmatic deaf and mute woman Awa ().

Saloum is a Western-Horror hybrid film by Senegal-based filmmaker Jean Luc Herbulot. Taking pages from Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Til Dawn, the film begins a revenge-themed western, before moving into supernatural horror as it is revealed that the Sine-Saloum Delta is home to many vengeful spirits. At the centre of the story of Saloum is the Black Hyenas' leader Chaka, who had a traumatic childhood experience in the Sine-Saloum Delta and has vengeance on his mind, though he does not account for the consequences of his actions.

Saloum starts off with a very strong first half, with its excellent opening scene and a western crime-film narrative that seems to be taken from the pages of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. The film's second-half switch to supernatural horror, while based on the folklore of the area, is not as strong and leads to a somewhat anti-climatic conclusion for the film. However, as a genre film coming out of Senegal, Saloum is still somewhat of an accomplishment.

Saloum is screening as part of Midnight Madness at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival


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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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