Distributor:  Icarus Films
Length:  58 minutes
Date:  2007
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English; French; Songhai / English subtitles
Grade level: 10-12, College, Adult
Color/BW:  Color
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Future of Mud

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This is the story of Komusa Tenapo, master mason and heir to the secrets of Djenne architecture, the traditional use of mud in Malian buildings.

Future of Mud

Through the story of a mason in Djenne, Komusa Tenapo, and his family, this documentary examines an African tradition of mud architecture in Mali. The environmental genius of these ancient construction techniques thick walls with tiny windows that keep the interiors cool despite the stifling heat is expressed in strikingly beautiful designs that have won the town of Djenne designation as a World Heritage site.

FUTURE OF MUD reveals Komusa's hand building methods, utilizing sun-dried bricks made of mud from the flood plain which contains decayed fish, and cattle manure that are mixed with organic materials such as straw and rice chaff. The film shows him at work on two building sites, and at the annual repair of the Great Mosque, employing thousand-year-old construction techniques, plus the secret knowledge he inherited from his family of masons, including religious rituals to protect homes and workers from evil spirits.

Komousa, family members and Madame Diallo, a Cultural Heritage official, present information on the history of Malian architecture. The film also shows the annual replastering of Dejenne's Great Mosque, the largest mud brick building in the world, a day-long, boisterous community effort, and a major public celebration observed by local residents and tourists.

'This highly engaging film puts a human face to the construction of Mali's remarkable mud buildings. Against the dramatic portrayal of one mason's life we see an ancient city come alive, culminating in one of the most exciting, high-energy community events captured on film-the annual re-plastering of the Great Mosque in Djenne.'-Marla C. Berns, Director, Fowler Museum at UCLA

'A very believable, instructive and compelling narrative about traditional building practices and how it intertwines a rich, underlying dimension to Djenne's social and urban fabric... One gets a true sense of love and craft combined with a love for the creative and integrative possibilities of earth.'-TreeHugger.com

'This documentary has good cinematography, an excellent soundtrack and a fairly cohesive story line. It provides a current look at West African life today.'-Janis Tyhurst, Educational Media Reviews Online

'This highly engaging film puts a human face to the construction of Mali's remarkable mud buildings... one of the most exciting, high-energy community events captured on film.'-Marla C. Berns, Director, Fowler Museum at UCLA

'Fascinating... an excellent introduction to the building traditions and masons' practices in this part of Africa.'-Geert Mommersteeg, Visual Anthropology


** 2010 TAC Festival, Winner of 7 Honors
** 2008 International Festival of Films on Art
** 2007 Vancouver Pan-African Film Festival
** 2007 Rotterdam Architecture Film Festival
** 2007 RAI International Festival of Ethnographic Film


Main credits

Vogel, Susan Mullin (film director)
Vogel, Susan Mullin (film producer)
Vogel, Susan Mullin (screenwriter)
Sidibe, Samuel (film producer)
Marchand, Trevor Hugh James (film producer)
Camara, Amadou (screenwriter)

Other credits

Edited by Harry Kafka; music, Issa Bagayogo, Afel Bocoum, The Skeptics; camera, Isaac Guba Kpelle, Susan Vogel, Harouna Racine Keita.

Distributor credits

Directed by Susan Vogel
Produced by Susan Vogel, Samuel Sidibé, Trevor Marchand and the Musée National du Mali

Docuseek2 subjects

Environmental Design
Sustainable Architecture
African History
Cultural Anthropology
African Studies

Distributor subjects

African Studies
Cultural Anthropology
Environmental Film Festivals
Green Building
Green Design
Natural and Manmade Materials


Susan Vogel; traditional; houses; housing; construction; technique; techniques; house; Malian; African; craftsman; craftsmen; mason; documentary; film; video; DVD; "Future of Mud"; Icarus Films;

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