Digital Participation – Film Review: La petite vendeuse de soleil (The little girl who sold the sun) (1999)
La Petite Vendeuse de Soleil (The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun) (1999) is directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty, a Senegalese filmmaker. The protagonist is a young disabled girl named Sili Laam who uses crutches to walk and begs in the city streets for money to help out her family. She decides to enter the occupation of selling newspapers which has been dominated by young males. In one scene, with her face superimposed on the printing of newspapers, Sili exclaims that what boys can do, girls can do too. I admire Sili’s self-determination and her character reminds me a little of Tambu from Nervous Conditions. Sili makes her way through the bustling city with confidence and stands her ground when looked at with suspicion for making a large amount of money or defending the newspaper she sells, Soleil, as her friend, Babou Seck, argues that Sud is better.
I like the non-dialogue scenes incorporated into the short film. Some scenes depict everyday life and there is a juxtaposition being the quiet of the town Sili lives in to the busy city with the motor vehicles zooming by. Other scenes feature music, specifically music coming from the boom box carried around by a boy in a wheelchair. My favorite scene would have to be when Sili and other girls are dancing down the road to the music and meet up with other kids who join in the fun. Then when they pay the boy to play more music, Sili puts on sunshades and smiles. This scene shows how happiness can be found in difficult times, that nothing should stop one from enjoying life even for a brief period of time, and music can bring people together.
At the end of the film it says: “this story is a hymn to the courage of street children”. I think this is fitting especially using the term hymn given the music that is played throughout the film. To me, this means that this story exhibits how there is no single story to what the life of a street child entails, how there are obstacles to overcome regardless of some sort of status one may hold over another, and that these kids have all learned how to build their own path without having to be told how to do so.