Malian-French director Daouda Coulibaly's auspicious debut is a pulse-pounding political thriller. Wùlu tells the unsettling tale of a man's rise from the bottom rung of the social ladder to the heights of criminal power.
The quiet and unassuming Ladji (Ibrahim Koma) lives an impoverished life on the streets of Bamako, Mali's bustling capital. His work selling tickets for a bus company barely pays enough to cover his rent. When nepotism bars him from yet another promotion, in desperation he decides to apply his knowledge of transport to a new career — as a drug trafficker. Ladji's expertise and street smarts enable his rapid ascent through the criminal hierarchy but he becomes mixed up with the military and its shadowy elite. And then the drug trade moves into Al-Qaeda territory, putting Ladji and everyone he knows in danger.
Set in the years leading up to Mali's 2012 coup, Wùlu's story of ruthless ambition reaches far beyond the individual scope of a single character. Suspenseful and impeccably paced, Coulibaly's first feature marks him as a director to watch, a filmmaker equally skilled at crafting thrilling set pieces and at shining a critical light on systems of power.
Followed by a panel discussion.
To see Daouda Coulibaly’s earlier work, join us for The Best of Africa’s Shorts, featuring his 2011 short film, Tinye So.