The barrier-breaking ‘Atlantics’ heralds Mati Diop’s arrival

NEW YORK — Mati Diop’s “Atlantics” is Senegal’s submission to the Academy Awards’ international film award, and if it were nominated, would mark the first Oscar nod for Senegal.

The film is already much decorated. In May, it was awarded the Grand Prix, or runner-up, at the Cannes Film Festival. Jury member Elle Fanning said “Atlantics” “touched us in our hearts.”

In Cannes, Diop became the first black woman to ever direct a film selected to the festival’s prestigious competition lineup. As the film arrives in U.S. theatres , The French-Senegalese filmmaker is still wrestling with that distinction. “I don’t want to be simplified,” says Diop.

“Atlantics” opens Friday is select theatres and begins streaming on Netflix Nov. 29.

Jake Coyle, The Associated Press