We totally missed this one, and it's actually quite a major miss! But thankfully, it didn't go completely unnoticed by us.
The film is called Simon Killer, a mystery/suspense/drama directed by Antonio Campos that centers on a recent American college graduate who travels to France, where he becomes involved with a prostitute.
A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of five years. His life should be open-ended and full of promise, but he can’t shake his feelings of loss. Being a stranger in a strange land only aggravates his situation. When he falls in love with a young mysterious prostitute, a fateful journey begins. Though we soon learn that Simon is the one with deeper secrets.
The main reason why I say this was a big miss for us is because the film was written by, and co-stars Mati Diop.
Who is Mati Diop? The last name might give you a clue. Mati is the niece of the late great Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambéty (a name that's come up a few times on S&A; he directed African cinema classics like Touki Bouki and Hyènes).
And as if that wasn't enough, she's the daughter of Senegalese jazz musician Wasis Diop.
Cinephiles will likely be more familiar with her uncle than her father, and Mati does seem to have gotten the attention of cinephiles everywhere with her work in Simon Killer, as writer and co-star, for which she just picked up the AFI FEST 2012 Special Mention For Performance nod (both for writing and acting).
Prior to Simon Killer, she starred alongside revered french actor Alex Descas in celebrated French auteur Claire Denis' acclaimed drama 35 Rhums (35 Shots of Rum) – a film that S&A covered a lot on the old S&A site, when it was in release in 2009.
So we could say that, in addition to coming from some of the best, she's been working with some of the best talents in cinema, which is great for her. She picked up some awards for her performance in that film.
And on top of her abilities as an actress and writer, she's also a director. At 30 years old, she's been making films since she was 22, when she directed her first film, a short titled, Last Night; and her short film Atlantiques was screened at the IFFR in 2010 in the Tiger Awards Competition Short Films section.
She studied at Le Fresnoy (National Studio of Contemporary Arts) and Le Pavillon (an art residency of the Palais de Tokyo).
Mati Diop’s films are screening in the Experimenta strand of the 56th BFI London Film Festival, which actually ended just 2 weeks ago.
But she's rooted in a tremendously gifted family background. I'd guess that frequent questions and comparisons to her late great uncle's work are common.
It could be a lot of pressure to carry around.
In Simon Killer, Brady Corbet stars as Simon, the college graduate who travels to France, and Mati Diop plays the Parisian prostitute whose life he gets involved with, and where this journey, described by many reviews collectively as an entrancing, bold and provocative cinematic character study.
The consensus seems to be that this is a film that will introduce her to American audiences, which could mean Hollywood may come calling, which could further mean that we'll see more of her work, whether as actress, writer or director.
There's no trailer for Simon Killer yet; it just screened at the AFI FEST in LA. IFC Films picked it up and has set the film for an April 2013 release.
But here's the official, recently-released, first poster (35 Shuts Of Rum is on DVD by the way):