MÉBÉT

14 year old Njillan, one of the top students in her class, has just been awarded a government scholarship to pursue her secondary education. Excited to share this achievement with
her family, she is welcomed with bad news: Her father has given her away in marriage to Sengan, despite the protests from her mother.

Njillan is forced to let go of her dreams and fulfil her marital duties. She falls pregnant and faces complications while giving birth to her son, Modi. She doesn’t survive. Modi grows up and
is initiated into manhood by his grandfather, Njillan’s father. Now a man, he has the opportunity to carry forward the culture of child marriage or reverse the trends and protect his future daughters. He has an encounter with the spirit of his mother, telling her story and pleading him to break the cycle.

MÉBÉT tells the story of one girl’s attempt to turn the tragedies of the past into lessons for the future. It is a conversation across generations to deliver positive change. The film showcases
aspects of West-African culture to counter the negative narratives about the continent, and portray the reality of our journeys through stories of resilience and hope.

  • Ousman Jarju
    Director
    Calabash; Darkness Under The Sun
  • Jama Jack
    Writer
  • Muhammed Hakeem Mahoney
    Writer
    Darkness Under The Sun (2012); Calabash (2006)
  • Ousman Jarju
    Producer
    Darkness Under The Sun (2012); Calabash (2006)
  • Muhammed Hakeem Mahoney
    Producer
  • Mariama Colley
    Key Cast
    "Njillan"
    Hand of Fate (2013)
  • Jainaba T Sarr
    Key Cast
    "Yadicon"
  • Sheik Tijan Sonko
    Key Cast
    "Bai"
  • Rohey Camara
    Key Cast
    "Bajen"
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    MÉBÉT
  • Project Type:
    Short
  • Genres:
    Drama
  • Runtime:
    33 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    September 25, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    2,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    Gambia
  • Country of Filming:
    Gambia
  • Language:
    Wolof
  • Shooting Format:
    HDV 1080/24fps
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9 |1.7
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
  • Screening - Ebunjan Theatre
    Serrekunda
    Gambia
    January 17, 2020
    The Gambia Premiere
  • Award - 10th Charlotte Black Film Festival
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    United States
    April 23, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Festival Screening: African Women Arts & Film Festival (AWAFFEST)
    Dar es Salam
    Tanzania, United Republic of
    April 2, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Community Project Screening - Latrikunda Upper Basic School
    Serrekunda
    Gambia
    December 11, 2019
  • Community Project Screening - St. John’s School for the Deaf
    Kanifing
    Gambia
    December 12, 2019
  • Community Project Screening - St. Theresa’s Upper Basic School
    Serrekunda
    Gambia
    December 13, 2019
  • Community Project Screening - Charles Jow Memorial Academy
    Bundung
    Gambia
    December 18, 2019
  • Community Project Screening - Kaddijatou Centre of Excellence
    Kotu
    Gambia
    December 21, 2019
  • Award - Charlotte Black Film Festival
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    United States
    June 19, 2020
    Best International Film
  • Festival Screening: Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival 2020
    Atlanta
    United States
    September 24, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Festival Screening: Arts X SDGs Festival
    New York
    United States
    August 12, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Festival Screening: Social Justice Film Festival
    Seattle
    United States
    October 1, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Festival Screening: Silicon Valley African Film Festival
    San Jose, California
    United States
    October 10, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Nominee: US Hollywood Golden Film Award

    United States
    December 16, 2020
    Nominated for (i) Excellence in Social Conscience (ii) Outstanding Up & Comer Actress
  • Film Screening: Women of African Descent Film Festival
    Brooklyn, New York
    United States
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Ousman Jarju

Ousman Sayeed Jarju is a director, editor and screenwriter, with almost two decades of experience in producing, directing and editing TV commercials, music videos and other material for TV. He developed a passion for film and storytelling at a very young age and started acting on stage and writing skits on issues that affect young people in his community. He collaborated with his friend Muhammed Hakeem Mahoney to produce their first feature film, Calabash (2005), which he directed and acted as the lead character. Ousman took filmmaking courses at the London Film Academy (LFA), after which he wrote and directed a short film – Darkness Under The Sun (2012).

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Director Statement

A sister and a dear friend of mine was forced into marriage as a child to someone she did not
choose – in fact, she was too young to make a choice at all. She had to endure unimaginable
pain and challenges during this period, but her resilience saw her triumph over all adversity.

MÉBÉT deals with a serious matter that continues to be a challenge in the lives of many young
girls in The Gambina and all over the world. The motivation for child marriage in a lot of
households and families may include economic challenges and/or a strong desire to uphold
certain traditions and cultures. We present this film in a way that values the good aspects of
our cultures and traditions, but going further to pose a crucial question: What happens to our
community if all promising, ambitious and intelligent young girls are married off at a tender age?

My sister and friend was lucky to come out of it alive and turned around her life to become an
example of resounding success – many others are not so lucky!