The 36-year-old French-Senegalese director Mati Diop is the first black woman filmmaker in competition in the 72 years of the Cannes Film Festival.

Her film, “Atlantics,” is about women left behind in Dakar when many of the local young men flee to Spain by boat. In an interview, Diop says she initially felt sad when learning she had made history in Cannes.

Diop says the milestone didn’t make her embarrassed or proud, just saddened that her being a part of the festival wasn’t “completely natural and normal.”

Writer director Mati Diop, fifth from left, poses with cast and crew upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Atlantique' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Writer director Mati Diop, fifth from left, poses with cast and crew upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘Atlantique’ at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Diop is one of four women in competition for Cannes’ top award, the Palme d’Or.

Director Mati Diop poses for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Atlantique' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Friday, May 17, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Director Mati Diop poses for photographers at the photo call for the film ‘Atlantique’ at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Friday, May 17, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Writer director Mati Diop, fourth from left, poses with cast and crew upon arrival at the premiere of the film 'Atlantique' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Writer director Mati Diop, fourth from left, poses with cast and crew upon arrival at the premiere of the film ‘Atlantique’ at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Actors Aminata Kane, from left, Amadou Mbow, director Mati Diop, actors Mame Sane, Nicole Sougou, and Mariama Gassama pose for photographers at the photo call for the film 'Atlantique' at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Friday, May 17, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)
Actors Aminata Kane, from left, Amadou Mbow, director Mati Diop, actors Mame Sane, Nicole Sougou, and Mariama Gassama pose for photographers at the photo call for the film ‘Atlantique’ at the 72nd international film festival, Cannes, southern France, Friday, May 17, 2019. (Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP)

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