One of Africa’s most celebrated filmmaker, Idrissa Ouedraogo has passed away at 64. Idrissa passed away at his home on Sunday in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. His death was announced via Twitter by Burkina Faso’s President, Roch Marc Christian Kabore.
Idrissa Ouedraogo is widely celebrated in Burkina Faso and Africa in as a whole for his dedication to bringing to life films that observe cultural change. Over the years, these films brought him international recognition and won him several awards at the Cannes International Film Festival.
He began his filmmaking career in his late 30s when he wrote and directed his first ever feature film, ‘Yam Daabo’ – which translates to ‘The Choice’ – about a family disrupted by famine. The film was described by The New York Times as “a beautifully composed, emotionally triumphant film that brings to our attention a most valuable filmmaker”. He put Burkina Faso and Africa on the world map in 1990 when his film, ‘Tilai’, was one of the only two films to receive the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival. The Grand Prix is the second highest prize at the Cannes Festival, after the Golden Palm.
Ouedraogo will be remembered in the African film industry as a great filmmaker who made amazing short films and feature films including ‘Yaaba’, (which means ‘Grandmother’) which won a Critic’s award at the 1989 Cannes, ‘Samba Traole’, which won an award at the Berlin Film Festival, ‘Kini & Adams’, ‘September 11’ and ‘Kato Kato’ among others.
For his films, Idrissa used people from the village and unprofessional actors, arguing that they were in a better position to bring out the right mood of the films since they had experienced the events of the films in real life.
In an interview with The Times, he had this to say, “I don’t teach them how to act. The lines are easy and often ad-libbed. I simply explain to them what emotions I want them to feel under certain situations. and they already know very wide range of these emotions.”
Idrissa will also be remembered for advocating for better financing for African films. He believed that there are many African filmmakers with great African stories to tell but are hindered by lack of funds from bringing these stories to life. He often travelled abroad to try and find funding for his films. “I want African Cinema to escape from the ghetto, to get more resources,” he once said in an interview with The Guardian.
Film Link Africa celebrates his life.