Scen.: Gaston Kaboré. F.: Issaka Thiombiano, Sékou Ouedraogo. M.: Andrée Davanture. Mus.: René B. Guirma. Int.: Serge Yanogo (Wend Kuuni), Rosine Yanogo (Pognere), Joseph Nikiema (Tinga), Colette Kaboré (Lale), Simone Tapsoba (Koudbila), Yaya Wima (Bila), Martine Ouedraogo (Timpoko), Boucare Ouedraogo (Razougou). Prod.: Direction du Cinéma de Haute Volta. DCP. D.: 75’. Col.
We are, you as well as I, the inheritors of a thousand-year-old story-telling culture, that shapes the way we tell and receive stories. We are not a blank page, as far as narrative is concerned. Remember the folk tales and nursery stories of childhood and think about how they were told: how specific they were in the way they dealt with time, the way they set characters within history and incorporated myths built around our languages, our experience, our beliefs, our values and our way of thought. I am not saying that what comes to us from the West is uninteresting, only that it speaks in its own, specific way, according to a specific narrative tradition. My preoccupation has been to find a filmmaking form to address my own people enshrined in both cinematic language and the legacy of our own story-telling tradition.
Gaston Kaboré, masterclass held at the Journées Cinématographiques de Carthage, November 2017
Kaboré’s Wend Kuuni is a prototype of creative candor for its definitive advancement in the effort to utilize specifically African cultural elements to create indigenous cinematic aesthetics. This lyrical film, which shows a boy being abandoned in the bush and becoming mute, employs multiple narrative voices. Using the story-within-a-story strategy to further this design, Wend Kuuni not only shows the tragedy that renders the boy mute but also uses another tragedy to restore his speech and open him up to society, to whom he then relates the experience. In simple oral narrative, this could take form of linear structuring, but in its cinematic rendering, episodic sequential units introduce three stories that merge into one. […] This strategy not only saturates the structure with an air of confident exploration of oral storytelling techniques mixed with cinematic conventions, it makes this film a dignified work of experimentation. […] But this is not the only quality that gives this film its captivating power; the melodrama built on Wend Kuuni’s tragedy catches our attention as we follow the plot through the invocation to new depths of despair, mounting suspense, climax and resolution.
Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike, Black African Cinema, University of California Press, Berkeley 1994