Contemporary World Cinema

The Wedding Ring

Rahmatou Keïta

Recently returned to her home in the Sultanate of Zinder after completing her degree abroad, a young woman suffering from the pain of a lost love finds renewal while awaiting the mystical promise of a new moon.

The Wedding Ring is a story of love, pain, sensuality, and marriage. Rahmatou Keïta's second feature offers an empowering female-character-driven take on romantic fiction. It's also an immersive introduction to the fast-fading customs of Niger's Sahelian people.

Tiyaa (Magaajyia Silberfeld), a clever woman of aristocratic birth, should have the world at her feet when she returns home to the Sultinate of Zinder after completing her degree abroad. But Tiyaa is aimless and burdened by the pain of a lost love. In the absence of any better idea, she reluctantly seeks counsel from a zimma, a Zarma Songhay wise man who seeks answers to life's mysteries in the elements. He advises that, on the eve of the new moon, she should procure a foreign symbol of marriage: a plain gold wedding band. Otherwise, she will only risk more heartache.

Tiyaa is at first skeptical, but she is also patient, and she spends the days leading up to the new moon in a kind of pedestrian road movie, wandering the community as she waits for the lunar event. Encounters with women of various generations open Tiyaa's eyes to the possibility of romantic passion, and she witnesses how the women of Niger thoughtfully measure their own innate desire for passion and happiness.

Keïta's first feature was the documentary Al'lèèssi... an African Actress, which screened at Cannes. Now Keïta proves equally adept at directing fiction — but her film is firmly rooted in reality. Its exquisite costumes and meticulously detailed production design are crafted as a love letter to the Sahelian way of life.

CAMERON BAILEY

This film has been selected for the next generation of film lovers by the TIFF Next Wave Committee.

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