I don’t remember where I first met Idrissa Ouédraogo, but what I do know is that we immediately struck up a brotherly friendship. I had seen his first two shorts Les Écuelles and Issa le tisserand and invited him to present them at the second edition of the Giornate del Cinema africano in Perugia, which was held from 26 February to 3 March 1984. It was the first Italian festival dedicated to African cinema that I had created, with the support of my friend Enzo Forini and the encouragement of the many African students enrolled at the University for Foreigners in the Umbrian city, which today would be inconceivable. The presence of Idrissa and Férid Boughédir who participated with Caméra d’Afrique – aroused great interest among the young people.
I met with Idrissa again at my first FESPACO, in February 1985, in the midst of great cultural and political excitement sparked by Thomas Sankara’s revolution. Ousmane Sembène, Tahar Cheriaa, Med Hondo, Lionel Ngakane, Jean-Michel Tchissoukou, Haile Gerima were all at the forefront of supporting the actions of this young president who wanted to restore Africa’s dignity and free it from neo-colonialism, corruption and the crushing world economic order. In 1987, again at FESPACO, I attended the world premiere of Yam Daabo. After 36 years I still vividly remember the emotion and pride I felt seeing the film’s first images. The “choice” the title refers to is the courageous decision of a rural family from the Sahel to refuse international aid from USAID and set off looking for other lands, but also for their own dignity and emancipation. A long sequence of great symbolic power, punctuated by the soundtrack of the great Francis Bebey. My happiness was indescribable: Idrissa proved to be a master interacting with the great African pioneers, who, like him, had chosen cinema to fight against the crushing world economic order. With his subsequent films, Idrissa’s star became part of the constellation of great festivals such as Cannes and Berlin, but in my view the pride and dignity of the first sequence of Yam Daabo make it the most beautiful and vibrant film of our history.
Cast and Credits
Scen.: Idrissa Ouédraogo. F.: Jean Monsigny, Sekou Ouédraogo, Issaka Thiombano. M.: Arnaud Blin. Mus.: Francis Bebey, Betty Aoua. Int.: Moussa Bologo, Aoua Guiraud, Assita Ouédraogo, Fatima Ouédraogo, Oumarou Ouédraogo, Salif Ouédraogo, Rasmané Ouédraogo. Prod.: Les Films de l’Avenir, Ministère de la Coopération. DCP. D.: 80’. Col.
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