Mati Diop Documentary ‘Dahomey’ Wins Best Film at Berlin International Film festival

The Story ⚡

Dahomey by Mati Diop, produced by Eve Robin, Judith Lou Lévy, Mati Diop won the  Golden Bear for Best Film

Mati Diop BerlinaleGewinnerin 2024

Tell Me More

The award-winning film Dahomey is a docu-fictional essay directed and produced by the French Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop.

Dahomey delves into the story of the 26 royal treasures of the Kingdom of Dahomey looted and exhibited in Paris, now being returned to Benin.

The Benin economic capital of Cotonou celebrates the return of looted treasures, yet there seem to be a lot of questions from people about the thousands of treasuries that remain in the French Museum.

“To restitute is to do justice,” Diop said upon receiving her prize. “We can either get rid of the past as an unpleasant burden that only hinders our evolution, or we can take the responsibility and use it as the basis for moving forward. We have to choose.”

Gildas Adannou, Habib Ahandessi and Josea Guedje played the lead characters, amongst other supporting cast members.

Mati Diop took over the Golden Bear for best film from veteran filmmakers such as Olivier Assayas and Hong Sang-soo.

Dahomey premiered in Berlin on 18th February 2024.

Key Background

Her diverse film work since the 2000s has established Mati Diop as a representative of a new wave of African and Afro-diasporic culture. 

Her feature film Atlantics won the Grand Prix at Cannes in 2019, for which she became the first biracial female director to be in contention for the Cannes Film Festival’s highest prize. 

She sees cinema as a tool of reappropriation to restore lost images, question degrading colonial representations, and invent new heroes and heroines.

 She also won awards for her short films, Mille Soleils (2013), Snow Canon (2011), and Dahomey (2024).


The Berlin International Film Festival, usually called the Berlinale, is a major international film festival held annually in Berlin, Germany. Founded in 1951 and originally run in June, the festival has been held every February since 1978 and is one of Europe’s “Big Three” film festivals, alongside the Venice Film Festival held in Italy and the Cannes Film Festival held in France.

The 74th Berlin International Film Festival showcased several films, including African films.

The African programmes scheduled are:

Demba directed by Mamadou Dia,

Black Tea by  Abderrahmane Sissako

Mé el Aïn by Tanit Films,

The Man With the Crooked Arm by Perivi John Katjavivi,

Soon Comes Night by Paul S Rowlston,

Certain Winds From the South by Eric Gyamfi,

As Noites Ainda Cheiram Á Pôlvora by Inadelso Cossa,

Au Temps où le Docteur Frantz Fanon Était Chef de la Cinquième Division entre 1953 et 1956 by Abdenour Zahzah,

Resonance Spiral by Marinho de Pina

Kaddu Beykat by Safi Faye,

Disco Afrika: Une Histoire Malgache by Luck Razanajaona,

À quand l’Afrique? by  David-Pierre Fila

Das leere Grab (The Empty Grave) by Agnes Lisa Wegner.


In Summary

Dahomey is the second African film to win the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival, following Mark Dornford-May’s South African operatic drama Breathe Umphefumlo in 2015.

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