The gold-filled plane and the three mercenaries who fled with a dark mystery of their past are the starting points for Jean-Luc Herbolot’s Senegalese genre-bender “Salum”, which has its world premiere at the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto Film Festival.
The film centers on Bangui Hyenas, a legendary trio of mercenaries whose plane was shot dead while fleeing a coup in Guinea-Bissau. Transporting the lord of stolen gold and stolen drugs, they are forced to take refuge in a remote and mysterious region of Senegal.
But as they lay in the Salum Delta waiting for their plane to be repaired and refueled, a mysterious mystery of the past unfolded, the forces of the dark ancestors that threatened to devour them all.
According to Herblot, “Salum” is the first production of Dakar-based production company Lakme Studios that Herbolot and co-founder Pamela Diop hope will reshape the story and “create a castle for myths and monsters and heroes” on the continent.
The author-director says the first feature of the studio is “how can we create something new that we’re not used to seeing in Africa,” adding that there are many African heroes on screen trying to add. ”
Citing inspiration from Sergio Leone’s Westerners, Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai Films, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Noyers, and George Miller’s post-apocalyptic action, Herbult said he was looking for a distinct visual style for his dynamic, genre-changing supernatural thriller. “We wanted to give a signature to the African genre film,” he said.
“Salum” was filmed at a location in the remote Salum Delta of Senegal, where producer Pamela Diop described it as a deeply immersed and collaborative process that involved cast and crew from the same camp throughout the five weeks of shooting. It stars Ian Gayle, Roger Salah, Mentor Ba and Evelyn Eli Juhen.
The film draws heavily on local folklore and spirituality, which Diop credits it with a unique character in a region where his family has roots. “We take all our energy from Salum,” he says.
Herbolot, of Congolese descent, studied in Paris and spent six years in Los Angeles. In 2014 he shot his first feature, “Dealer”, which was acquired by Netflix. Three years later he returned to Africa, where he worked as a presenter, director and presenter of the Dakar-set TV series “Sakho and Mangane”. Produced for Canal Plus Africa, it will be the first series in French-speaking West Africa selected by Netflix.
In 2019 Herbolot and Diop Lakme were forced to open studios. The pair have a body-swap comedy series in Cভte d’Ivoire and a historical biography of the great Carthaginian general and politician Hamilker Bar্সa, and about 20 projects in post-production in this Senegal-set action. Thriller “Zero.”
Built in partnership with Hussey Miller of Tableland Pictures, who shares an executive production credit with Douglas Jackson in “Salum”, “Zero” is the first expected of several collaborations between the U.S. producer and Lakme. Herbolot says the partnership is in line with the philosophy that inspired him and Diop to launch their production in Senegal.
“It was always about [how to] Take something local and transform it globally, “he said.” We have some strong IPs by our side. Now it’s about finding the right partners and people willing to invest in Africa.
“And those who want to make movies,” Diop adds.