Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
"Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' "Your Legacy Is More Than a Name" - Watch Michael B. Jordan in First Trailer for 'Creed' 'Extant' Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying 'Extant' Returns to CBS 7/1. Get Caught Up w/ This 1-Minute Recap + Read What Critics Are Saying Today, 26 Years Ago, 'Do The Right Thing' Opened in Theaters. Watch the Cast & Crew Reunite Today, 26 Years Ago, 'Do The Right Thing' Opened in Theaters. Watch the Cast & Crew Reunite Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman & Julia Roberts Seek Justice in First Trailer for 'Secret in Their Eyes' Remake Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Issa Rae's HBO-Bound 'Awkward Black Girl'-esque Comedy Gets a Director Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ Watch Trailer for Fascinating New Documentary About Black Men and Chess - ‘Sideline’ The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' The Irresponsibility of 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Full List of BET AWARDS Winners (Taraji P. Henson & Terrence Howard Take Actor Nods) Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Zadie Smith Will Make Her Feature Screenwriting Debut, Teaming up w/ Claire Denis for Sci-Fi Project Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Review: Arriving on Netflix TODAY, Definitive Nina Simone Documentary, 'What Happened, Miss Simone' Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film Haiti and the Dominican Republic - A Conflict Captured on Film A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' A Muscle-Bound Michael B. Jordan Hitting a Speed Bag w/ Stallone's Encouragement in Pic from 'Creed' Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) 'Supremacy' Director Deon Taylor Talks Race, Horror, and Working With Lela Rochon (LAFF Premiere) Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Africa At The Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film Submissions From The Continent - Burkina Faso

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act October 25, 2012 at 3:41PM

As was announced earlier a couple of weeks ago, by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, a record-setting 71 different countries submitted films for consideration to be nominees for next year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.
7
Yaaba
Yaaba

As was announced earlier a couple of weeks ago, by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, a record-setting 71 different countries submitted films for consideration to be nominees for next year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

A number of those countries are from continental Africa; in fact, one of them is submitting a film for the very first time (Kenya).

I'll get to that country in another post, as I continue a new series that looks at Africa's contributions to that specific Oscar category, since it was first introduced in 1956 (the 29th Academy Awards which were handed out in 1957), when a competitive Academy Award of Merit, known as the Best Foreign Language Film Award, was created for non-English speaking films, and has been given annually since then.

Prior to 1956, the Academy presented Special/Honorary Awards to the best foreign language films released in the United States; however, they weren't handed out regularly, and it wasn't competitive, unlike other categories. Although in the very early years of the ceremony, probably until after WWII, there was really no separate recognition for foreign language films.

And the film that would win the first official Best Foreign Language Oscar was Federico Fellini's La Strada, beginning a trend that would go on to see European films dominate in terms of wins in that category, followed by Asian films, with African films, and films from Latin America, rounding out the list.

I won't tell you exactly how many African films have won the Best Foreign Language category, but, as I'm sure you can guess, the number is low. However, I'm not just interesting in those films that won; I'm considering all the films that each country has submitted, since the award was first handed out some 55 years ago.

This series began about 2 weeks ago - a series that will be done in alphabetical order - starting with Algeria (read that post HERE if you missed it).

Continuing with the list of countries, based on my research, I had to skip over a few countries to finally get to today's country, which is Burkina Faso. Why did I skip Angola, Benin and Botswana? Well, simple. None of those countries has ever submitted a film for consideration.

Burkina Faso, on the other hand, has submitted a film for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film just once: In 1990, Idrissa Ouedraogo's Yaaba - one of his best-known works

The film, a morality tale, centers on Bila (played by Noufou Ouédraogo), a ten year old boy who befriends an old woman called Sana (Fatimata Sanga), who has been accused of witchcraft by her village, and has become a social outcast. Undeterred, Bila becomes Sana's friend, and even calls her "Yaaba" (which means Grandmother). When Bila's cousin, Nopoko (Roukietou Barry), is sick, a medicine man blames Sana, saying that she stole the girl's soul. And as a result, Sana undergoes a long and grueling journey to find a medicine to save Nopoko's life, which she is successful in doing. But even after that, she's still thought of as a witch. Eventually Sana dies, and it's after her death that the real reason why she is so-hated is revealed.

Yaaba was a critical darling at Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI. It also won the Sakura Gold prize of $143,000 at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 1989, as well as the top prize at FESPACO. And it was thanks in large part to the international recognition it received that it received distribution in several territories.

It's a simple, yet powerful, unpretentious film - a timeless coming-of-age story centered on 2 children and the special bond that they share with an elderly woman (who is ostracized by many in her village). It's beautifully crafted in a graceful, effortless style that achieves a quiet, poetic and even magical quality (making great use of the locale, in long takes) that is very satisfying.

The actors were all amateurs and came from the village location in which the film was shot - a film that's essentially a plea for tolerance.

Some have argued that it's maybe the best film ever made by an African director. 

And despite all the accolades, it never went beyond the submission step, because it didn't make the short list of 5 films nominated that year, unfortunately.

And still despite all the accolades, the film isn't easily accessible (you'd think otherwise); currently, you can buy used copies on VHS and DVD (but only region 2). 

You can also rent it and watch online, via the African Film Library website (for $5); or, watch it in pieces on YouTube. 

This is a film that really deserves something akin to the Criterion Collection treatment, and re-released.

Watch the first 10 minutes below:


Shadow & ActNewsletter