Isaka Sawadogo ('Invader') Fights For Social Justice On Coast Of Wintry Canada In 'Diego Star'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 11, 2013 5:59 PM
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On Monday I made some observations on this blog about the last film he starred in, which I finally got to see over the weekend, after a year or so of tracking it. Read that post HERE if you missed it. 

Here's an upcoming new film he stars in as well, worth a closer look. 

He's an actor whose name has been mentioned quite a bit on this site in the last 12 to 18 months, but, unfortunately, he's still very much a mystery to us here at S&A, and, also in the USA.

But, you read it here first - don't be too surprised if Burkinabé thespian Isaka Sawadogo starts showing up on screens at theaters near you soon (or possibly even on screens at home), as 2 films he stars in have gotten international attention (specifically, Stateside play) over the last year, raising his profile.

If praise for all the films we've covered that he's starred in, are any indication, he's definitely an actor we should know, and whose work we should be paying attention to. Recall Frenchman Omar Sy last year, after his star-turn in the award-winning, global blockbuster, Intouchables, and all the roles he's booked since then... and continues to book, after landing a Hollywood agent.

The first film was The Invader, which he stars in with Italian actress Stefania Rocca, as a pair, who meet, get involved against all expectations, and have an intense but very brief affair, which quickly ends, sending Amadou down a spiral of desperation and violence.

But it's more than that. Again, read my Monday post on the film HERE.

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011, screened at the Venice Film Festival, and later made its Stateside debut at the AFI Film Festival. Earlier in January this year, it screened at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, as well as the Seattle Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize for Best New Director

The film is Belgian Nicolas Provost's feature debut.

It's one of a handful of films we've profiled in recent years that explore some angle of the African immigrant's experience in Europe, specifically. 

The second film he's starred in, was De Nieuwe Wereld (or The New World), the 2012 Dutch film in which Dutch actress Bianca Krijgsman co-starred.

Written and directed by Jaap van Heusden (co-written with Rogier de Blok), the IJswater Films production follows the life of an unruly maid, working in an airport, who is startled by the arrival of a West African refugee seeking asylum.

Last we wrote about it in December, the film was in post-production, with a spring of 2013 debut scheduled. Although it likely won't screen anywhere in USA anytime soon.

And there's a third film - the main reason for this post - his most recent, titled Diego Star - a Canada/Belgium co-production, directed by Frédérick Pelletier.

Here's how it's described:

The Russian cargo ship on which engineer Traoré, from Ivory Coast, works (Issaka Sawadogo), strands off the coast of a wintry Canada. Traoré is held responsible for the engine failure. Wrongfully, claims the mechanic: the engine was far too old. While the Canadian authorities investigate what really happened, the multicultural crew of the ship is housed with the local population. Traoré finds himself with Fanny, a single mother who wants to use this opportunity to earn some money on the side. At first she keeps her distance, but soon the lanky engineer from Ivory Coast wins her over with his gentle character. But then Traoré is sacked. He’s out in the cold, 10,000 kilometres from home, while he struggles to fight for justice. Diego Star is a beautifully-filmed social realistic drama about a world in which workers are regarded as collateral damage. Humanity flickers within this harrowing injustice. But is that enough?

The film screened at the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year. It has yet to screen anywhere in the USA, and no word yet on whether it will, although I'd expect it to eventually. It'll screen next at the Hamburg Film Festival in Germany, later this month,

But from all I've been told from those who were at Rotterdam and Berlin, his performance is strong, and this is a film we should see. So maybe one of many Stateside film festivals will pick it up so those of us on this side of the pond will be able to see it. Maybe the AFI might, given that The Invader made its USA debut at that festival last year.

It was nominated for The Big Screen Award at Rotterdam.

Thankfully I was able to track down an English-subtitled trailer, which is embedded below (the above photo is a still from the film):

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1 Comment

  • Lauren | September 11, 2013 11:41 PMReply

    Isaka Sawadogo is all man all the time! What a presence he has on screen! Whew!

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