Private Project

drumming bodies dancing

drumming bodies dancing is an intimate encounter with sabar, the dance, the drum and the community - in Senegal. The filmmaker is invited to various sabar events, including a traditional women's sabar circle, a children's drum lesson, a band's performance rehearsal. We see the origins of rap and hear the Beifall priest’s chants. Sabar permeates all life in Senegal, affirming joyful community against the odds of local fishery devastated by foreign trawlers and a drying well. The final scene shifts to a village well, shared by animals and villagers alike. During the Sunday wash, the sabar band arrives and women and children join in the spontaneous performance, demonstrating the cultural resilience rooted in tradition.

  • susanna elisabeth knittel
    Falling for the Mountain
  • susanna elisabeth knittel
    Falling for the Mountain
  • Laye Diedhiou
  • Mané Ndiaye
    Key Cast
  • Babacar Top
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    24 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    25,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, French, Wolof
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - susanna elisabeth knittel

Susanna Knittel’s career as a filmmaker, writer and photo journalist spans 40 years in Europe and in the United States. Upon arriving in America, she directed the first short documentary on the Bohemian Grove.  She also produced and directed Freebase, and The Legacy: Tale of Life After Death as well as Homeless while working with Video West.  She assisted Robert Frank in "This song for Jack”. In 2015, her film Falling for the Mountain premiered at Wild and Scenic Film Festival.
Her essays have been published by Grantmakers in the Arts and Psychological Perspectives, a Journal of Jungian thought.

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Director Statement

Inspired by my first trip to Senegal as a young woman, I returned decades later to delve into the sabar dancing and drumming that is the pulse of Senegal.
My interest is to convey the richness of this culture, with a wealth of traditions - resulting in a peace loving, sharing and creative nation. Despite the lingering effects of colonialism, sabar is thriving, demonstrating what is possible when a vital Eros brings about vibrant community and joy.