Graduate Student, School of Cinematic Arts, USC
Touki Dollars is a poetic video essay that compares Touki Bouki (1973) and Sand Dollars (2014). The objective of this piece is to offer a visual comparison through side-by-side sequences that are similar in theme and framing and to illustrate deeper understandings of colonialism and survival. In Touki Bouki, the protagonists Anta and Mory, get involved in scheme activities in order to finance their glorified trip to Paris. In Sand Dollars, Noelí, a young Dominican woman and Anne, an older European woman have a relationship that results in Noelí receiving a passport from Anne. This passport, according to Anne, will be used for their trip to Paris.
Both Touki Bouki and Sand Dollars are about young, poor people of color trying to leave their respective homes to go to Paris. In both films, Paris represents an idealized, glorified space, where the worries of poverty do not exist. Both films implicitly confront the impact of colonization and the effects on those colonized. The Dominican Republic was colonized by Spain, and Senegal was colonized by France.
How should we view protagonists who are willing to leave everything they know behind in order to start a new life in Paris, the seat of a major colonial power?. What narratives about colonizing nations exist in colonized countries? How are illusions of “better lives” shown throughout Touki Bouki and Sand Dollars? What are the racial implications? Touki Dollars explores these issues by emphasizing the themes of movement, loss and regret.
Dólares de arena. Directed by Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Aurora Dominicana, 2014. DVD.
Touki Bouki. Directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty. Cinegrit, 1973. DVD.