But 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 it may only be a matter of time before a film he stars in becomes an international hit, making him even more of a name. That's all it took for Frenchman Omar Sy last year, after his star-turn in the awar-winning, global blockbuster, Intouchables.
The name Issaka Sawadogo may not immediately sound familiar to you, but his face and the last 2 films he starred in, which got lots of pub on this site, probably will.
The first film was The Invader, which stars the Burkinabé actor and Italian actress Stefania Rocca, as Amadou ("a robust and bold illegal immigrant"), and Agnès ("a married upper-class woman who works in the real-estate and artistic sectors"), who meet, get involved against all expectations, and have an intense but brief love affair, which quickly ends, sending Amadou down a spiral of desperation and violence.
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.
And despite all those screenings, none of us here at S&A HQ have been able to see that film... yet.
The second film he 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. So it's coming... although likely not to the USA anytime soon.
This morning, I learned of a 3rd new film starring Sawadogo 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 last month, and is now screening at the Berlin International Film Festival this month. No word yet on where it'll screen next, but I'm sure 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.
But from all I've been told from those who were at Rotterdam and who are at Berlin, his performance is strong.
The film itself 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):