By Kevin Kriedemann
Published February 22, 2018
The world continues to pay tribute to Burkinabe moviemaker Idrissa Ouedraogo who passed away on February 18, 2018 aged 64 years.
Roch Marc Christian Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, says Oedraogo’s death has robbed Africa of ‘one of its most valuable ambassadors in the field of culture’.
While New York Times describes Oedraogo as ‘legendary’ in its obituary, Variety hails him as ‘a towering figure of African cinema’ and a ‘prolific director over the course of his celebrated career’.
In his post on Twitter, President Kabore says the world has ‘lost a filmmaker of immense talent’ who ‘truly contributed to raising the profile of Burkinabe and African cinema beyond our borders.’
Prof Martin Mhando, the immediate former director of Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) and vice-chair of the East African Film Network (EAFN), describes Oedraogo as ‘a mountain of a human being that recedes as we travel away from it, but without its presence fading away’.
But who was this Idrissa Oedraogo?
Idrissa Ouedraogo who was born in born on January 21, 1954 in Banfora area of Burkina Faso (then known as Upper Volta), came to international attention in 1989 with his film titled YAABA (Grandmother), the story of two children who make friends with an old woman who has been declared a witch and turned into an outcast by her village.
New York Times describe YAABA, that won the FIPRESCI Critics’ Prize and a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in France, among other accolades, as a ‘spare and resonant drama with perfect control’ and praise its ‘utter simplicity’, ‘great sophistication’ and ‘exquisite clarity’.
YAABA is available on Showmax subscription service in Africa.
Other career highlights for Oedraogo include 1990’s TILAI (The Law), about a man who returns to his village to discover his father has married the woman he loves, and SAMBA TRAORE, about a man of dubious character who returns to his village from a city as a hero.
While TILAI won the Grand Prize at both Cannes and Pan African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadogou (FESPACO), SAMBA TRAORE, that was made in 1992, won the Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in Germany.