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Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal

Abstract

West-African film scholar Boukary Sawadogo identifies the 1990s as a period of transition in West-African Francophone cinema: Whereas earlier films from the region tend to deal broadly with socioeconomic themes relevant to the African continent at large, newer productions generally emphasize local and personal concerns, often addressing social issues from the starting point of a marginalized individual. In this paper, I explore two Burkinabe films, Yaaba (Idrissa Ouédraogo, 1989) and Kounandi (Apolline Traoré, 2004), in relation to Sawadogo’s analytic framework of marginality. After establishing the liminal position of the film’s lead characters, shunned since childhood by their close-knit rural communities, I trace how both characters manage to nonetheless exert a key influence on the health of the core of their villages. I thus argue that Yaaba and Kounandi both represent instances of modern West-African film in which social critiques are offered through local themes and an emphasis on the instructive experiences of marginalized individuals.

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