NO TRAVELER RETURNS
Cast: Dawuda Jabbie, Souleymane Sy Savané, Fatouma Jabbie, Maba Ba
Crew: Producers: Joseph Mastantuono, Ellie Foumbi – Screenwriters: Ellie Foumbi
A young African immigrant’s struggles to adjust to life in America push him towards an existential crisis.
Ellie Foumbi is an actor/writer/director from Cameroon. She holds an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts in Directing. Her films have screened at several international film festivals, as well as placed in the Student Academy Awards Semifinals and been nominated for an African Movie Academy Award. She was invited to participate in New York Film Festival’s prestigious Artist Academy. She’s is a Tribeca Film Institute Alumni and Film Independent Screenwriting Lab Fellow. Ellie made her TV directorial debut on BET’s hip-hop anthology, Tales. She is a finalist of the 2019/2020 Venice Biennale Cinema College with her first feature which will be presented at the 77th Venice International Film Festival in 2020.
I was particularly struck by the terror attack in NYC in the fall 2017, which occurred on the West Side Highway. I watched the news coverage in shock as the assailant wandered aimlessly between cars. I asked myself, what would push someone to such a low point where they are not only ready to take innocent lives but throw away their own as well? As I listened to more details about this man’s background, I was uncomfortable to learn how much his immigrant story mirrored my own. In order to personalize this story even more, I enlisted the help of my family members. My cousin, Dawuda Jabbie, plays the lead role, along with my aunt, Fatouma and her kids, who are featured in the apartment scenes at the beginning of the film. I chose to shoot in black and white in order to heighten the main character’s dilemma as he must choose between (light-life) and (dark-death). The work of Ousmane Sembene, particularly his acclaimed film, Black Girl, was a very strong influence in the visual style and tone of No Traveler Returns. This is evident through the brooding lead character who says next to nothing but whose internal life we are given access to through his voiceover and poignant close-ups. It is my sincere hope that this film will open up a more candid dialogue about the root cause of terrorism and the vulnerability of young men who may feel slighted by society or their community.