Mama Keïta was born in Dakar, Senegal, to a Vietnamese mother and a Guinean father. After studying law in Paris, he started writing screenplays. Between 1981 and 1997 Keita directed five short films, then he directed and produced a documentary and several long feature films, including the 2009 award-winning film The Absence. The documentary David Achkar, une étoile filante (1998) is a personal obituary for a deceased friend. His first feature Le fleuve (2002) received the press award at the Paris Film Festival. In 2009, besides L’Absence he made the short film One more vote for Obama as part of the Pan African short film project.