Tilai (1990)

Written & Directed by Idrissa Ouedraogo

The wonder of cinema is that which can and will surprise you. When I ventured into this film I had no idea what to expect. I am not sure I have ever really sat down and seen an African film proper. I’ve seen those set in Africa, with African actors maybe, about African history or important figures, but there is something to be said about perspective; and perspective might be the most unique part of what makes up the art of storytelling. More than anything, what I can take away from having seen Tilai is the concept of perspective. Everyone throughout the world has a story to tell.

Set in an African countryside, a brother returns home after time away to find that the woman he loved has been betrothed to his father. Feeling betrayed, he causes a stir within the community, forcing the hand of his brother, who, according to tradition, is chosen to kill is brother for what is viewed as his betrayal of his father. The story is solid, and the director really does a nice job of telling it. It is a very short film and wastes no time inserting unneeded subplots, which is very refreshing to see.

The hardest thing to take in from this film was just simply the production itself. Certainly rough around the edges, I think the hardest thing to overcome was the very staged and forced delivery of many of the films main actors. I must praise Assane Ouedraogo, however, as he was one of the major highlights of the film, delivery what felt like a very real and emotional performance as the brother whose hand becomes forced. I also could tell that there was a lot left in the translation of the film. The subtitles were noticeably lacking and I would be curious to see the film with a better understanding of the language and the translation of the story.

Now the movie itself I would say was not really anything overly special, but what it did was light the fire in my cinematic belly and open my eyes to the idea of world cinema. I’ve seen it before, but oftentimes, and especially during awards season, I have lost sight of it; the ideal of seeing more foreign language films each year. Hopefully I begin to seek these sort of films out more often. Even if I would call this effort mediocre, the experience of the film was beneficial and enjoyable and nothing can ever really replace that sort of experience when seeing a film.

**1/2 – Good

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