The Bozo of Mali are people of the water. For generations, they have lived along the banks of the Niger river, fishing for their livelihood. But climate change and drought have brought lower water levels and fewer fish, driving young Bozo men to leave their villages in search of work.
Gala is one of these men. Like many young Bozo, he has moved to the capital, Bamako, and works as a sand fisher, dredging up sand and gravel by hand from the river's banks and bottom, and using large wooden pirogues to ferry it ashore. Here, it will be loaded into trucks and used for bricks, concrete mix and tiling—all to feed the construction boom in the country's largest city.
But the sand business isn't what it used to be either. Nosco, Gala's boss, bemoans the prices he is getting and wonders how he can stay in business. (The film includes a couple of very entertaining scenes in which we see Nosco negotiating with suppliers and customers.) And while other young men love the freedom that money and distance from family bring, Gala wonders if he would be better off back home in Mopti, his village. Here, he could be closer to his children and pass on the importance of fishing—an activity in which his oldest son shows no interest. As one of his friends says, if all the Bozos leave for the city, what will be left of their culture?
HAMOU-BEYA, SAND FISHERS is a sparse yet beautiful and carefully observed film that captures the dilemmas facing one man and his community in a world buffeted by economic and climatic changes.
2015 Enviromental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
2013 FESPACO, Burkina Faso Film Festival
2012 Etats Généraux du documentaire, Lussas
2012 Afrique en Doc, Lille et St Louis du Sénégal
2012 International Documentary Festival Amsterdam
2012 Festival International du Film, Amiens
2013 Festival International de Programmes Audiovisuels
2013 Festival International Filmer le Travail, Poitiers
2013 FESPACO, Ouagadougou
2013 Seattle International Film Festival
2013 Cinemafrica Film Festival
2013 Luxor African Film Festival
2013 Environmental Film Festival