Hamou-Beya, Sand Fishers

Directed by Andrey Samoute Diarra

72 minutes / Color
English subtitles
Release: 2014
Copyright: 2012

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.

film still

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.

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A film by Andrey Samoute Diarra

Select Accolades

  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital 2015
  • International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2013
  • Seattle International Film Festival 2013
  • Cinemafrica Film Festival 2013


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