Thursday, May 14, 2015

Buud Yam

1997, Burkina Faso/France, directed by Gaston Kaboré

A sequel of sorts to Wênd Kûuni, the 1982 film that put Gaston Kaboré on the map. He returns to both the characters and the actors from that film and while there are deliberate resonances between the two pictures, including brief flashbacks that are actually footage from Wend Kuuni, this stands on its own as an exploration of pre-colonial Sahel life. It's not entirely historically accurate in terms of the depiction of a rather abundant and largely conflict-free swath of territory and yet it also succeeds in giving a strong sense of the existence of numerous loosely associated societies that often have trouble understanding one another even on the linguistic level (a phenomenon that continues today, and which contributes to the real challenges posed by borders that cut through pre-existing societies). While the storyline is straightforward, narrating the search by Wênd Kûuni for a legendary healer intercut with sequences featuring the young man's ailing sister, it's rich in its generosity of spirit, and very open about suspicions within village life but also the ways in which those suspicions can be healed. Visually some of the landscapes of southern Burkina Faso are lovely, and I also liked the way that Kaboré shot most of the film in medium/long shot so you can really see the interactions between the characters, while there are a few moments of wonderful humour, particularly a sequence in which a group of riverbank kids enjoy observing some clueless newcomers. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States