EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|YAABA (aka: GRANDMOTHER) (director/writer: Idrissa Ouedraogo; cinematographer: Matthias Kalin; editor: Loredana Cristelli; music: Francis Bebey; cast: Roukietou Barry (Nopoko), Noufou Ouedraogo (Bila), Fatimata Sanga (Sana), Adama Ouedraogo (Kougri), Amade Toure (Tibo), Ousmane Sawadogo (Taryam), Adame Sidibe (Razougou), Rasmane Ouedraogo (Noaga); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Idrissa Ouedraogo/Pierre Alain Meier/Freddy Denaes; New Yorker Video; 1989-Burkina Faso-in Mooré with English subtitles)|
touching fairy-tale pic has a polished lush look,
and the naturalistic performances make it look
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
filmmaker Idrissa Ouedraogo ("Kato Kato"/"Anger of the
shoots a simplistic but endearing lucid film about
village life in the barren plains of
Burkina Faso (a village of mud homes very similar to
the one where the director was raised), and offers us in a sparse
language the timeless tale of learning tolerance.
It's in the Mooré language of Burkina
Faso (formerly Upper Volta). The touching fairy-tale
pic has a polished lush look, and the naturalistic
performances make it look convincingly realistic. Yaaba was the 1989 winner
of the International Critics Prize at the Cannes
The title character Sana
Sanga) is an elderly woman who has been ostracized by
her superstitious villagers and forced to live a
lonely life at the village's outskirts, as she's
thought of as a witch because her mother died at
child-birth and her grief-stricken father died soon
afterwards and the villagers ignorantly blamed the
baby for the death of her parents. In truth Sana is a
kindly woman who possesses great wisdom, compassion
and understanding. While the villagers are made
up of various ordinary people living traditional
lives, with many being superstitious, gossips,
arguers, adulterers, persecutors and petty thieves.
Bila (Noufou Ouedraogo) is a playful adolescent who
loves to frolic with his younger beautiful teasing
cousin Nopoko (Barry
children meet Sana while playing by the cemetery one
day and Bila befriends her--even calling her "Yaaba" (Grandmother) to
her great joy.
When the villagers accuse the old woman falsely of
setting a fire and blame her for their misfortunes,
Bila knows Sana is innocent because he was with her at
the time of the fire.
When three bully children
fight with Bila, Nopoko comes to his rescue and she gets cut in
the arm with a rusty knife. Nopoko gets very sick and
is dying, but the superstitious villagers refuse to
allow Sana to help when she sends a healer with a
potion to cure the tetanus infection.
The innocent children learn
that their adult role models are ignorant and feel
invigorated that the old woman offers them a new way
of looking at the world through an open-minded and
more generous way to exist. The way this primitive
society reveals its ignorance and intolerance is not
that different from the civilized world's bias against
those people it doesn't wish to understand. Though
more like a children's pic in its earnest simplistic
message, its universal message nevertheless bears
repeating. This well-executed family value drama is a
most positive and heart-felt film, that proves a film
made in so-called backward Africa can be a poignant
one whose message for tolerance can also resonate in
the modern western world.
Incidentally, the two
children are relatives of the director.
REVIEWED ON 8/2/2011 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ