Cheick Oumar is one of the greatest cinema directors that Africa has ever produced. The majority of his filmmaking career has been spent in residence at the Centre National de la Production Cinématographique (CNPC), where he directed Sécheresse et Exode Rural (“Drought and Rural Exodus”). Then in 1995, he directed “Guimba (The Tyrant),” which won special jury prizes at the International Film Festival of Locarno and l’Etalon de Yennenga (“Stallion of Yennenga”) at FESPACO (the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou). In 1999, “Genesis,” staring Salif Keita among others, was released, which won Sissoko another Etalon de Yennenga at FESPACO. In 2000, he directed Battù, based on a novel by Aminata Sow Fall which won him the RFI Prize for Cinema at FESPACO in 2001.
Beyond the world of cinema Checik Oumar is extremely active politically. In 1996 he and Oumar Mariko founded a political party, African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence (SADI). Cheick Oumar is the party’s president.
On October 16th 2002 he was nominated as the Minister of Culture in the government of Prime Minister Ahmed Mohamed Ag Hamani and he remained Minister of Culture in the government of Prime Minister Issoufi Ousmane Maiga, which was named on May 2, 2004.On August 8, 2007, following the death of the minister of education in July, Sissoko was named Minister of National Education, while remaining Minister of Culture.
Cheick Oumar’s political connections open the way to much needed governmental support in Mali and his experience producing films in Mali is unparalleled in the country’s history, making him a key resource for the production of Vieux Mali. Cheick is also personally invested in the film as he was a friend of Ali Farka Toure’s and accompanied his body home to Niafunke after Ali’s death—an experience that is echoed in the plot of Vieux Mali.