Born on 13 October 1961, he spent his childhood in Mali then he returned to Mauritania before moving to Moscow where he studied the art of cinema in Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) from 1983 till 1989. Sissako settled in Paris since 1990.
He is considered one of the most active African directors and producers in Mali and France. He worked with Ousmane Sembene, Soliman Sisi and Idrissa Ouedraogo. His film Heremakono was screened in Cannes Film Festival in 2002, while his film Bamako draw a lot of attention in 2007. Sissako was chosen as a jury member in Cannes Film Festival in 2007.
His first film was The Game in 1989, he also contributed in the film Stories on Human Rights among other filmmakers in 2008.