Mamadou Dia
Senegal - Germany


55-year-old Demba is about to retire after 30 years of service at the city hall in his small town in Northern Senegal. That hot summer, as the 2-year anniversary of his wife’s passing approaches, he realizes he just can’t “shake it off.” As his mental health deteriorates, he discovers a new connection with his once-estranged son. Grief and depression are so alike that for years, the American Psychiatric Association has urged doctors not to diagnose major depression in individuals who have recently lost a loved one. But what does that mean for a society that does not have a word for depression and where psychosocial disorders remain a taboo? Can Demba recover from his loss without losing himself?

2nd feature
Director of photography

Sheldon Chau


Alan Wu

Music Composer

John Corlis

Main Cast

Ben Mahmoud Mbow, Awa Djiga Kane, Mamadou Sylla, Aicha Talla, Abdoluaye Dicko, Saikou Lo


Joyedidi (Senegal)
Maba Ba 


NikoFilm (Germany)
Nicole Gerhards 

Director’s statement

One of the most vivid memories from which this project sparked is the morning I learnt of my mother’s death. “Boys don’t cry” was the sentence I remember from that day. I was 12 years old. I steadily scanned faces until I found my older cousin’s familiar one. I hugged him as tight as I could, but no tears ran through mine. When I think back about that episode, all that comes to mind is “they got me.” I, too, suffered in silence unable to express that indescribable pain. We take it all in and maintain a stoic appearance. Demba explores the tension between grief and healing, belonging and estrangement, mental health and psychiatric disorders through the life of a middle-aged man. The idea originated from a genuine question: how can a society that doesn’t have a word for “depression” deal with it?


Mamadou Dia
Mamadou Dia

Mamadou Dia is a Senegalese director who obtained his master’s degree in Directing / Writing from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. His feature film Baamum Nafi (Nafi’s Father in Fulani) premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival in 2019 where he won the best first feature award and the golden leopard in the section “Filmmakers of the Present”. The film has been shown in over 80 festivals worldwide and was Senegal’s official entry for the Oscars 2021. With his company Joyedidi co-founded with Maba Ba, they toured Senegal with an inflatable screen to show the film in open air places.

Maba Ba
Maba Ba

Maba Ba’s love for storytelling started when as a kid in Senegal, he entertained family members around candles appreciating the unlimited power of stories. After studying computer science, he moved to New York to pursue 3D animation and acting immersing himself in Film, Tech and Animation worlds. Maba is an actor, producer, and director with titles such as #WarGames (MGM), Christmas Wedding Baby (Netflix) and award-winning films such as Samedi Cinéma (TIFF, Venice) and Men or Mice (Urbanworld). In 2021, Maba participated in the Woodstock Film Festival’s Incubator Program supporting emerging directors.

Total budget

€900 000

Financing secured

€750 000

Partners attached

Fopica (Senegal), Canal + International (France)

Shooting period and locations

December 2022, January 2023, Matam (Senegal)

Expected delivery

Winter 2024

Stage of post-production

Picture locked

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