Idrissa Ouedraogo

b. January 21, 1954, Banfora, Burkina Faso

Filmography
Select Bibliography
Articles in Senses
Web Resources

While constantly seeking to expand African audiences for his work, Idrissa Ouedraogo also acknowledges the necessity of funding and audiences outside Africa. His best known films are Yaaba (1989) and Tilaï (1990). They have been praised for their visual allure, charming vignettes, affecting performances, technical sophistication and inventive mise en scène. These qualities are present, to a greater or lesser degree, in all of Ouedraogo’s work. Tilaï, winner of the Cannes 1990 Special Jury Prize and the FESPACO 1991 Étalon de Yenenga, established his international reputation. Since then he has directed five more feature films, a total of eight in all, as well as shorts, documentaries, television programmes and contributions to portmanteau films. Yam Daabo (1986) was his first feature; the others are A Karim na Sala (1991), Samba Traoré (1993), Le Cri du cœur (1994), Kini and Adams (1997), and La Colère des dieux (2003, yet to be widely distributed, therefore regrettably not discussed at length in this survey). The later films have not received the sustained critical attention they deserve, because Yaaba and Tilaï have until now dominated the discussion.

Yaaba and Tilaï exhibit some of the stylistic qualities critics have traditionally associated with francophone African cinemas. Yaaba‘s unhurried editing and sparse Francis Bebey score instil measured rhythms into its representation of village life. The film includes, for example, a long shot lasting nearly two minutes of the outcast “grandmother” Sana’s (Fatimata Sanga) funeral. Tilaï‘s tragic conclusion has been described by Manthia Diawara as an example of “the mise en scène of the oral tradition”. (1) Rather than kill him as punishment for adultery, Kougri (Assane Ouedraogo) allows his brother Saga (Rasmane Ouedraogo) to escape. When Saga returns to the village for his mother’s funeral, Kougri’s disobedience is publicly exposed, and he is banished. Kougri peremptorily shoots Saga. Diawara argues that static long shots in this sequence establish a distance between the spectator and individual characters’ psychologies, and instead raise the narrative to the level of a moral fable characteristic of African oral traditions. It would be reductive, however, to describe the style of Ouedraogo’s early films entirely in these terms. They also utilise judicious close-ups, reaction shots, and shot-reverse shots.

Yaaba

Discussion about the appeal of Yaaba and Tilaï opened up a more controversial issue. Academic commentaries on these films proposed that a Euro-American “tourist gaze” formed part of their reception context. Summarising debates around these films’ depictions of rural life, Diawara points out how certain critics described Yaaba, for example, as a beautifully photographed “postcard” view of Africa. (2) For some commentators, Yaaba‘s apparently straightforward narrative of two children befriending an outcast older woman, set in an idyllic village location, accounts for its popularity with Western audiences. Rod Stoneman includes Yaaba and Tilaï in the “village film” category within a “tentative typology” of recent African films. His concern is to begin to trace the extent to which “the magnetic pull of foreign audiences and foreign finance…affect[s] the range and emphasis of African cinemas”. Stoneman argues that “village films…may be read in their country of origin as a reclamation of an image of precolonial history, sometimes engaging in a polemic with traditional values in contemporary society.” However, in addition to

the strong connotations of the exotic produced by the distance and unfamiliarity of the signified…a Western audience watching Yaaba recognises the adultery, the closeness between small children and a “grandparent” as asserting that humanity is the same here and there… (3)

Stoneman’s polemical reference to the “Western audience” implies rather too much homogeneity. Some Western critics have also explored how Yaaba and Tilaï can be seen to engage in implicit polemics with traditional values in contemporary African society (4). Nevertheless, it is valid to argue that one reason why Ouedraogo’s later films have been less widely acclaimed than his earlier ones is because they cannot so readily be assimilated to “tourist gaze” and “village film” expectations (5). Yaaba and Tilaï, although his best known films, can also be seen as a minor trend within Ouedraogo’s output. They are the only two of his features entirely located within small village environments. In a 1993 interview Ouedraogo spoke of being motivated to reassess his stylistic and thematic preoccupations by the reflections of certain

African spectators who were saying to me: ‘You do some things [in Yaaba and Tilaï] that at the end of the day are far removed from us’… I could therefore be reproached for retaining a purist attitude when Africa was in the process of moving on. (6)

This notion of “moving on” in Ouedraogo’s 1990s films can be taken quite literally. One of his first shorts, prior to being tagged as a “village film” maker, was Ouagadougou, Ouaga deux roues (1985). This is a paean to Ouagadougou’s omnipresent mopeds; an impressionistic representation of various types of traffic circulating within Burkina Faso’s capital (7). Yam Daabo, also produced prior to the “village film” label, involves a very bleak variation on the traffic motif. A peasant and his family travel by foot across the Sahel to relocate to more fertile land. Their route takes them across a busy town. Momentarily distracted, the youngest son is killed in a traffic accident. Cars and motorised traffic appear repeatedly in Ouedraogo’s later work as ambivalent signifiers of modernity, of aspiration, of social status, and of connections and transitions between rural and urban spaces.

A Karim na Sala gets overlooked because it is one of Ouedraogo’s least aesthetically and technically accomplished films. Its casting of the children who played the cousins in Yaaba opens it to accusations of being an inferior reprise of an earlier, successful film. A Karim na Sala does however initiate a new phase of thematic development. At the beginning of the film, the adolescent Karim (Noufou Ouedraogo) captures a baby goat and gives rather than sells it to Sala (Roukietou Barry), who happens to be driving past in her father’s car. This inaugurates journeys and connections between villages, towns and cities. Family networks link these different spaces. In his first trip from his home village to a busy market town, shots of Karim on his donkey in the middle of busy motorised traffic establish a familiar urban/rural contrast. The initially innocent Karim is robbed, becomes involved in petty crime, and spends some time in prison. His release is arranged by Sala’s father; good fortune underscored by a cut to another shaven-headed young prisoner who remarks on how lucky Karim is. After this, Karim eventually becomes a skilful negotiator of transitions between rural and urban space. He and his mother leave their village to escape from his oppressive uncle. When they arrive for the first time in the potentially bewildering city of Bobo Dioulasso, Karim manages to locate his aunt’s family. He remembers her husband is a taxi driver and finds another taxi driver who knows where they live. Yet another road journey concludes the narrative, when Karim leaves his home village and reconstituted family (his uncle having been ousted after his missing father has been found). Sala and her father, whose richness Karim describes to his mother in terms of his car ownership, arrive to drive Karim off to receive an education in the city.

Narratives which explore transitions or oppositions between urban and rural space are common in francophone African cinemas. Ouedraogo joins an established tradition here; what is significant is how these issues are inflected by different filmmakers working in different industrial, historical and political contexts (8). A Karim na Sala‘s opening echoes an incident in the earlier Zan Boko (1988), directed by another Burkinabe filmmaker, Gaston Kaboré (9). In one poignant sequence in Zan Boko, a young villager has ingeniously constructed a toy out of wood and straw. He is approached by an urbanised young neighbour who wants to buy the hand crafted toy. The village boy declines, and instead offers it to his new friend as a gift. The urbanised boy refuses, not wanting to engage with anything that escapes the monetary terms through which he perceives and seeks to control his environment. This fundamental divergence of values persists throughout the film and is reiterated at its conclusion. Zan Boko‘s trenchant analysis differs from A Karim na Sala‘s gentler, ultimately optimistic outlook. One could conclude from this, as Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike suggests in an early assessment, that Ouedraogo’s films avoid “political confrontations (and confrontations with the status quo)” and lack the “historical resonances” of some other African films (10). The potential limitation of this kind of judgement is that it focuses solely on what the films seem to lack rather than on what they have to offer.

In Le Cri du cœur, adolescent Moctar (Saïd Diarra) leaves Mali with his mother to join his father who has established a business in France. Like Karim, Moctar reconciles potential contradictions between the city and the village. He gradually constructs a new African diasporic identity. This is partially based upon avoiding the destructiveness, and embracing the prosperity, adventure, and enjoyment that can be derived from cars and motorised traffic. Moctar’s father Ibrahim (Alex Descas) has built up a successful garage in Lyons. Moctar is enthralled yet initially disorientated by his new city. Throughout the film, shots are often composed with cars suddenly cutting into background or foreground space. The spectre of a traffic accident hangs over the narrative. Walking through the city, Moctar is nearly run over by a motorist when he first encounters Paolo (Richard Bohringer). They become friends because Paolo is the only person who believes Moctar’s account of glimpsing a hyena stalking him through the city streets. Later, Paolo reveals that he used to be a truck driver, but has not driven since he accidentally killed a child on the road to Marseilles. The confrontation with the hyena takes place in a scrap yard where Moctar and Paolo sit and wait inside the chassis of a wrecked car. After they have defeated the beast, they briefly hijack a lorry and take it for a joyride. Le Cri du cœur plays the widest range of variations on Ouedraogo’s traffic motif.

Le Cri du cœur

The ideal of the African village, although not its direct representation, remains crucially important to Le Cri du cœur. Much of the narrative unfolds within Lyon’s parks and riverside areas. These locations echo the brief sequences in Moctar’s village in Mali at the beginning of the film. Moctar’s reinvention of his ideas and images of home and community is galvanised when he and his mother Saffi (Félicité Wouassi) visit his uncle’s family in a largely rural French location. Moctar and his cousin fly a kite in the park and talk about Mali. At the end of the film, after the death of his beloved grandfather back in his village in Mali, Moctar and Paolo sit on a bench in the park overlooking the city. Moctar recites an African poem: “They’re in the weeping grass/They’re in the running waters/They’re in still waters/In the forests, in the home/The dead never leave us.” Le Cri du cœur‘s final image is an overhead long shot from their spot in the city park. The frame is balanced equally between greenery, a river and city buildings. Le Cri du cœur never explicitly references the heated political debates about Malian immigrants taking place in France in the early 1990s (11). Yet it is a quietly political film. Released at a time when the mainstream French media was circulating very different images of African immigrants, Le Cri du cœur contains positive representations of Malians building happy, prosperous lives in rural as well as urban European locations. It emphasises a renovation of African tradition and connection with ancestors, regardless of where particular Africans happen to be.

Karim’s relationship with Sala rescues him from trouble with the authorities and brings him a city education. He becomes increasingly capable of fending for himself and thriving in different environments. A similar process operates between Moctar and Paolo in Le Cri du cœur. Ukadike has suggested that Ouedraogo’s films do “not seem to have a clear vision of the African future”. (12) To the extent that it does exist, this vision is invested in self-reliant (usually male) children, and the new types of relationships they form, rather than explicitly critical analyses or calls to political action. One consistent thread in Ouedraogo’s work since Yaaba is that children are better able to negotiate whatever obstacles they encounter. Another consistent thread since Tilaï is that adult (male) protagonists find their situations more intractable.

As in A Karim na Sala and Le Cri du cœur, narrative development in Samba Traoré and Kini and Adams hinges upon interconnections between rural and urban spaces. The desire for upward social mobility is, again, associated with travelling along these routes. What is different for the latter two films’ adult protagonists is that this desire is consistently frustrated, or finds its only outlet in criminal activity. Samba Traoré opens with a virtuoso tracking shot of a violent robbery. This sequence is silent except for the sound, gradually increasing in volume, of approaching traffic. In the opening shot a camera tracks two men walking along a road from frame left. A truck passes behind them, they separate, and the camera continues to follow the one we later realise is Samba (Bakary Sangaré). Another truck in a petrol station comes into view in the foreground as Samba exits frame right. The petrol station’s takings are seized, Samba’s accomplice is shot, and he makes his getaway with the money, all within the duration of this opening shot. The next three shots show a police vehicle beginning the search as a paperboy spreads the news, the police driving from the city into the countryside, and a bus carrying Samba into his village. Back home, Samba teams up with his old friend Salif (Abdoulaye Komboudri), buys a herd of cattle for his father and the whole village, marries Saratou (Mariam Kaba), and employs villagers to build him a house and a bar. Suspicions about where the money for all this came from gradually mount; Samba’s claim that he grew rich working on a banana plantation becomes less and less credible. Once the secret is out the police finally capture Samba. The film ends with them driving him back to the city to face the consequences of his crime.

Samba Traoré

The opening petrol station robbery is an example of Ouedraogo’s and his collaborators’ mastery of technique. It is as dynamically staged as in any classic gangster film, coordinating several characters’ interactions within a particular space. The film’s conclusion is similarly orchestrated. Samba’s attempt to escape to the mountains when the police close in on him is represented entirely in long shots. These keep the relationships between characters and the environment constantly in view, at the same time as lending grandeur to the action. When his friend Salif catches a bullet in the leg whilst running to warn him, Samba runs down the mountain back into the foreground of the shot to help, even though this allows the police to catch him. All of this dramatic action unfolds within one long shot that reverses the pattern at the end of the tracking shot that opened the film. There, Samba abandoned his wounded or dead accomplice and ran away with the money into the background of the shot. Like the gangster in Robert Warshow’s analysis of the early 1930s Hollywood variants of this genre, Samba is represented as a compellingly tragic, almost mythical figure. In Warshow’s analysis, the gangster exists in a “city of the imagination”. Samba exists in a distinctly African imaginative space where the city and the village intersect. He embodies not the contradictions within individualism but contemporary tensions, within African cultures, between individual economic aspirations and more communal values.

Samba‘s opening sequence is the only one shot in urban space, but the city is nevertheless inseparable from the village life represented in the film. Samba’s money and the building work it pays for provides employment as well as leisure facilities for the villagers. City wealth lights up the village, although the way it was acquired gives Samba sleepless nights, and causes his father to angrily reject him and burn his house down when he discovers the truth. For the younger generation, however, city/village oppositions prove difficult to sustain. Saratou, like Samba, has experience of city life and two previous relationships there. The biggest point of crisis in the narrative occurs when Saratou has trouble giving birth to her first child with Samba and needs to go to town to find a doctor. Samba, afraid of being recognised, refuses to accompany her. This provokes his father to search his house, discover the gun he has hidden, and extract the truth from him. Saratou meanwhile has given birth to a son on a truck midway between the village and the city. Samba can neither return to the city nor enjoy respect within the village. However, rather than endorsing either as superior to the other, the birth in transit between both spaces suggests that reconciling them will continue to be a key issue for future generations. If children are orientated towards the future in Ouedraogo’s films, this is in contrast to the sad or tragic adults who cannot cope with present contradictions. In Yaaba and Tilaï adults are excluded from otherwise self-sufficient village communities. In Samba Traoré and Kini and Adams the village is no longer a self-contained space. Adult outsiders are squeezed between city and village into an untenable intermediate zone.

Despite containing trademark elements of charm, light heartedness and humour, Kini and Adams is Ouedraogo’s bleakest film. Samba’s guilty conscience, Salif’s friendship, the birth of his son, and Saratou’s promise to wait for him at the end of Samba Traoré keep open the possibility of redemption and a family and community network to return to. Even this small opening to the future is closed in Kini and Adams. The city and village continue to be intertwined throughout this film but there is less actual movement than in Samba, and certainly nothing like the mobility Karim and Moctar enjoy in A Karim na Sala and Le Cri du cœur. Kini and Adams is a road movie where the journey never begins. Possession of or access to a car is not usually a major issue in European or American variants of this genre. Kini and Adams is about two friends’ shared ambition to rebuild a car that will take them off to make their fortune as cab drivers in the city. They never make this journey, but their immediate environment becomes an intermediate zone when a mine opens nearby. Kini (Vusi Kunene) remarks to Adams (David Mohloki) at this point that they’re not going to be peasants anymore. The two friends find employment at the mine. The trappings of urban life quickly grow up around it. This apparent opportunity to make money to further their dream leads to disaster.

Kini and Adams

Kini and Adams‘ bleakness partly derives from the way that neither the city, nor the village, nor the intermediate zone between them is validated as a positive space. The village where Kini and Adams live contains less warmth, colour or community spirit than in Yaaba or Samba Traoré. When it is left unattended, children shit in the car and steal its bumpers, prompting Adams to demand them back at gunpoint. This is played for laughs yet also with a hint of the desperation and harshness that becomes increasingly prominent as the narrative progresses. Kini is promoted after saving his boss’ life in an accident involving a disillusioned worker who has deliberately driven into an area where explosives are being detonated. Kini’s subsequent authority over Adams strains their friendship. Although they eventually finish renovating the car it becomes clear that their dream has dissipated. Laughter and hope is repressed by negative urban values that the developments around the mine bring into their lives. As Ouedraogo put it, Kini and Adams is concerned with a “passage from the peasant class to the working class. This brutal change creates all the problems with these people on the level of friendship.” (13) Conflicts played out within the relatively complex narrative involve self-interest, mistrust, deception, and pursuit of financial gain at the expense of communality, family and friendship.

When Adams realises Kini is not going with him to the city, he commits suicide by driving their car into a tree. The intrusion of city life into the characters’ environment has devastating effects, but the power of the city dream is reiterated in the film’s final shot. Held throughout the end credits sequence, the shot is of the two friends sitting opposite each other on top of their car, smiling and looking upwards, with a bright sun between them in the background. It is an image repeated from earlier in the film, also widely used as a publicity still. Visually appealing, it is more than a “postcard view”. It condenses some of the characteristic preoccupations of Ouedraogo’s 1990s films. Striking African scenery is juxtaposed with a car and everything this connotes. In the context of the narrative this image speaks eloquently of the aspiration to “move on” beyond the village to the city; an aspiration that breaks but also forms the basis of the bond between Kini and Adams.

Serious critical discussion of thematic and stylistic consistencies and developments within Ouedraogo’s output has not significantly moved on since the early “village film” and “postcard view” debates. Some of Ouedraogo’s later films, for example, exhibit a more mobile style than Yaaba and Tilaï. In the 1993 interview where Ouedraogo declares his intention to keep up with an Africa “in the process of moving on”, he also claims that

[African] spectators don’t want to see any more poetic and contemplative films…These criticisms were what brought me to introduce into my cinematic thinking those elements which were closer to them, to the modern world and their conception of cinema. (14)

In a subsequent interview Ouedraogo insists

When they say Africa means sitting under the ‘talking tree’, and that takes a long time, I don’t agree. If you have a one-minute crane-mounted tracking shot, you don’t notice the minute passing! But when the camera is still for a minute, you accept it only if the actors are very good; if they aren’t, you can’t take it! (15)

These precepts inform Ouedraogo’s contribution to the portmanteau film 11’09”01 – September 11 (2002). His segment, set in Ouagadougou and featuring non-professional actors, includes frequent camera tracking, an overhead shot, even some whip pans, relatively brisk editing, and point-of-view and shot-reverse shot patterning.The film focuses again on (male) children, but combines a characteristic attention to everyday concerns with unusually direct reference to momentous contemporary political events. Five teenage boys plan to capture an Osama bin Laden lookalike and claim the reward. After the thrill of the chase, the lookalike’s escape, and the disappointment of missing the reward, the film ends optimistically with a long shot, lasting over half a minute, of all the boys and other people in the background. It contains more camera and character movement than in the long shots of “grandmother’s” funeral in Yaaba or Kougri’s shooting of Saga in Tilaï. Nevertheless it retains a communal focus. The boys decide to redistribute some of their resources to help the poorest one return to school and pay for his mother’s healthcare. La Colère des dieux, Ouedraogo’s latest feature, ventures further into an explicitly political realm. It is his first historical drama, about succession within an African dynasty.

Other developments include the varied, inventive linguistic strategies Ouedraogo has employed to address diverse African and international audiences. They range from the limited dialogue and gestural emphasis of early shorts and features such as Issa le tisserand (1985) and Yaaba, to the French of Le Cri du cœur and the English of Kini and Adams. Similarly, the soundtracks range from the Bebey scores for Yam Daabo and Yaaba to Wally Badarou’s for Kini and Adams. Then there is Ouedraogo’s direction of actors, from the sometimes remarkably fresh performances of non-professional children in Yaaba, to recognisable, marketable professionals such as Richard Bohringer in Le Cri du cœur and Vusi Kunene in Kini and Adams. These and many other facets of Ouedraogo’s work await further exploration.

Idrissa Ouedraogo

Filmography

Pourquoi? (Why) (1981) short

Poko (1981) short

Les Écuelles (The Platters) (1983) short

Les Funérailles du Larle Naba (Larle Naba’s Funeral) (1984) short

Ouagadougou, Ouaga deux roues (1985) short

Issa le tisserand (Issa the Weaver) (1985) short

Yam Daabo (The Choice) (1986)

Yaaba (Grandmother) (1989)

Tilaï (The Law) (1990)

Obi (1991) short

A Karim na Sala (Karim and Sala) (1991)

Samba Traoré (1993)

Le Cri du cœur (Heart’s Cry) (1994)

Gorki (1994) short

Afrique, mon Afrique (Africa, My Africa) (1994) short

Lumière et compagnie (Lumière and Company) (1995) segment

Kini and Adams (1997)

Les Parias du cinémas (1997) short

Entre l’arbre et l’écorce (1999) television programme

Scenarios from the Sahel (2001) short

Kadie Jolie (2001) television series

11’09”01 – September 11 (2002) segment

La Colère des dieux (2003)

Select Bibliography

Olivier Barlet, African Cinemas: Decolonising the Gaze, Zed Books, London, 2000.

Ferid Boughedir, “African Cinema and Ideology: Tendencies and Evolution”, in June Givanni (ed.), Symbolic Narrative/African Cinema, BFI, London, 2000.

Manthia Diawara, African Cinema, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1992.

Josef Gugler, African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2003.

Thierry Jousse and Jacques Morice, “Entretien avec Idrissa Ouedraogo”, Cahiers du cinéma, March 1993.

James Leahy, review of Tilaï, Monthly Film Bulletin, March 1991.

James Leahy, review of Yaaba, Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1990.

Idrissa Ouedraogo, contribution to June Givanni (ed.), Symbolic Narrative/African Cinema, BFI, London, 2000.

Françoise Pfaff, “Africa From Within: The Films of Gaston Kaboré and Idrissa Ouedraogo as Anthropological Sources” in Imruh Bakari and Mbye Cham (eds), African Experiences of Cinema, BFI,London, 1996.

Sharon A. Russell, Guide to African Cinema, Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 1998.

Rod Stoneman, “South/South Axis: For a Cinema Built by, with and for Africans” in Imruh Bakari and Mbye Cham (eds), African Experiences of Cinema, BFI,London, 1996.

Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Black African Cinema, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Questioning African Cinema, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota, 2002.

Articles in Senses of Cinema

Tilaï by James Leahy

The Mirror of Memory: African Film and the Question of Criticism feature review by Niels Buch-Jepsen

Web Resources

Strictly Film School
Acquarello writes on Tilaï.

The House of World Cultures
Appreciative article by Ulrich Joßner.

Le Cri du cœur
Short review by James Berardinelli.

Kini and Adams
Notes by Michael Dembrow, for the Ninth Annual Cascade Festival of African Films.

Idrissa Ouedraogo en tournage, le 17ème jour
An article by Florence Santos da Silva, on the shooting of La Colère des dieux (in French).

Samba Traoré
DVD review by Yann Raymond for Objectif Cinema (in French).

Yaaba, analysedu film
Analysis by Alexandre Tylski (in French).

Africultures
Excellent journal dedicated to African cultures, has an article on Kini and Adams (by Olivier Barlet) and an interview with Ouedraogo from 1997 (in French, other sections of the site also in English).

Click here to search for Idrissa Ouedraogo DVDs, videos and books at

Endnotes

  1. Manthia Diawara, African Cinema, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1992, p. 163.
  2. Diawara, p.160. Josef Gugler, African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2003, pp. 30–2, offers a more detailed analysis of the representation of the village in Yaaba.
  3. Rod Stoneman, “South/South Axis: For a Cinema Built by, with and for Africans” in Imruh Bakari and Mbye Cham (eds), African Experiences of Cinema, BFI, London, 1996, pp. 178-9.
  4. James Leahy, review of Yaaba, Monthly Film Bulletin, January 1990; review of Tilaï, Monthly Film Bulletin, March 1991, are early examples of this type of response.
  5. Ferid Boughedir, “African Cinema and Ideology: Tendencies and Evolution” in June Givanni (ed.), Symbolic Narrative/African Cinema, BFI, London, 2000, p. 121; Olivier Barlet, African Cinemas: Decolonising the Gaze, Zed Books, London, 2000, p. 211, briefly discuss Le Cri du cœur‘s reception in these terms. Poor critical responses at festivals limit the distribution and subsequent video or DVD availability of African films. This perpetuates a tendency to repeatedly discuss a familiar, narrow canon.
  6. Idrissa Ouedraogo quoted in Thierry Jousse and Jacques Morice, “Entretien avec Idrissa Ouedraogo”, Cahiers du cinéma, March 1993, p. 27 (my translation).
  7. Issa le tisserand (1985), another of Ouedraogo’s shorts from this period, directly represents a “tourist gaze”. A French-speaking white tourist takes some photographs of Issa, a traditional weaver. Issa obliges, smiling and waving as the tourist drives off. This moment acknowledges the possibility that a superficial “tourist gaze” might focus solely on picturesque traditional practices and seemingly content smiling faces. Yet the overall narrative raises issues about a changing Africa and some of the economic pressures that form part of this.
  8. Françoise Pfaff, “Africa From Within: The Films of Gaston Kaboré and Idrissa Ouedraogo as Anthropological Sources” in Bakari and Cham, 1996, situates the two directors in relation to Burkinabe culture. Useful work could also be done on their location within the historical and political contexts of the pre- and post-Sankara eras.
  9. A Karim na Sala also echoes Wend Kuuni (Gaston Kaboré, Burkina Faso, 1982), which similarly features a missing father and a relationship between adolescents. Manthia Diawara, “Oral Literature and African Film: Narratology in Wend Kuuni” in Jim Pines and Paul Willemen (eds), Questions of Third Cinema, BFI, London, 1989, points out that Wend Kuuni is itself adapted from narratives within African oral traditions.
  10. Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Black African Cinema, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994, pp. 277, 283.
  11. Lumière Noire (Med Hondo, 1993) addresses this issue in a more overtly political manner.
  12. Ukadike, 1994, p. 282.
  13. Idrissa Ouedraogo quoted in Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Questioning African Cinema, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota, 2002, p. 158.
  14. Idrissa Ouedraogo quoted in Jousse and Morice, p. 27 (my translation).
  15. Idrissa Ouedraogo quoted in Barlet, p. 172.

About The Author

Martin Stollery is the author of Alternative Empires: European Modernist Cinemas and Cultures of Imperialism (University of Exeter Press, 2000), L'Emigre (Flicks Books 2004), and co-author of British Film Editors (BFI, 2004). He has published numerous articles and book chapters on various aspects of North African and British film history.