Med Hondo

Med Hondo
Born Mohamed Abid Hondo
(1936-05-04) May 4, 1936
Atar, Mauritania
Occupation film director, producer, screenwriter, actor and voice actor

Med Hondo (born Mohamed Abid Hondo, May 4, 1936) is a Mauritanian film director, producer, screenwriter, actor and voice actor. He emigrated to France in 1959 and began to work in film during the 1960s. He received critical acclaim for his 1967 directorial début Soleil O.


Hondo was born in 1936 in Ain Oul Beri Mathar in the Atar region of Mauritania. His mother was Mauritanian and his father Senegalese.[1][2] In 1954 Hondo went to live in Rabat, Morocco, to train to become a chef at the International Hotel School there.[1][3] He emigrated to France in 1959 and found work first in Marseilles and then in Paris, variously as a cook, farm labourer, waiter, dockworker and delivery man.[1][2] He found that he, and other African immigrants, were unable to find jobs in their chosen professions, and in the menial jobs they could find, were paid less than the French.[3] The difficulty of making a living during this time, as well as racism he experienced, eventually provided inspiration for his films, including Soleil O and Les 'bicots-Nègres' vos voisins.[4]

Hondo began to take classes in acting and directing, and studied under French actress Françoise Rosay, acting in classic plays by Shakespeare, Molière and Jean Racine.[1][3] He was unable to fully express himself with French repertoire theatre, and in 1966 formed his own theatre company with Guadeloupean actor Robert Liensol.[1][4] Named Shango (from Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder), and later Griot-Shango, the company produced plays relating more to the experiences of Black people, including work by René Depestre, Aimé Césaire, Daniel Boukman and Guy Menga.[1][3][5]

In the late 1960s, Hondo started taking small roles in television and films.[6] At the same time, he began to learn the craft of film making by careful observation of the work of others, and began to get work behind the camera.[4][6] He began his first film, Soleil O, in 1965.[7] Made on a budget of $30,000, it was financed by Hondo's work dubbing American films into French.[8] Soleil O played during International Critics' Week at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim.[9] It received a Golden Leopard Award at the 1970 Locarno International Film Festival.[10] In 1981 he was a member of the jury at the 12th Moscow International Film Festival.[11]

Some of Hondo's acting work has been as a voice actor, in films and television series such as Funky Cops and Asterix and the Vikings. He has worked on the dubbing of many English language films into French, voicing characters of Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover (on the rare occasions when he was not dubbed by actor Richard Darbois), Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley.[1] He has dubbed several of Eddie Murphy's films, including The Nutty Professor and the part of Donkey in 2001's Shrek.[12][13]

Med Hondo explains on his website [14] that he met with Danny Glover in 1991 and exposed his then current project to him: a biopic of Haitian revolutionary Toussaint Louverture. An enthusiastic Glover would have then voiced his interest in playing the main part and taking part in the production, before cutting all communication with Hondo and co-writer Claude Veillot. Hondo now claims that Glover's current Louverture biopic project, financially backed by Hugo Chavez, was inspired by his own original screenplay and Hondo addressed an open letter to Glover in which he denies assertions from Glover's "Louverture Films" company that the script was a commission paid by Glover to Hondo. Hondo also mentions his meeting with Glover in an English-language interview on French international news channel France 24.[15]






  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Biography, official site.
  2. 1 2 Sherzer (1996), p. 173.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Ukadike (2002), p. 57.
  4. 1 2 3 Sherzer (1996), p. 174.
  5. Murphy (2007), p. 71.
  6. 1 2 Ukadike (2002), p. 58.
  7. Sherzer (1996), p. 175.
  8. Reid (1986).
  9. Harvard Film Archive.
  10. Locarno International Film Festival official site.
  11. "12th Moscow International Film Festival (1981)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-01-21.
  12. 1 2 3 4 l'Humanité (1997).
  13. 1 2 Canadian Online Explorer (2002).
  14. Med Hondo's open letter to Danny Glover (French and English).
  15. Med Hondo Interview on France 24 channel (English).


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