A Look Back at the KIFIFE Film Festival at the Opera Village

We look back with great joy on the fifth edition of the KIFIFE Children’s Film Festival in Opera Village Africa, Burkina Faso. This year, we had the privilege of welcoming the renowned artist and documentary filmmaker Seydou Cissé as a workshop leader. Cissé is known for his intense exploration of cultural identity and traditions of the Sub-Sahara, often addressing social issues in his works.

A particular highlight of the festival was his documentary “Taamaden” from 2021, which sheds light on migration from a West African perspective and depicts the lives of immigrants in Spain and Mali. We also showcased “Garibou,” a film that addresses the exploitation and mistreatment of children by religious leaders. Cissé’s works always create a dialogue between traditional African practices and modern technology, thus promoting political discussion and awareness among children and adolescents.

Another outstanding contribution to the festival was the work of Burkinabe filmmaker Michel Zongo. Years after his brother’s death, Zongo embarks on a personal quest to Côte d’Ivoire in his film. The story of his brother Joanny, who, like many young men, sought work in the wealthier neighboring country and whose whereabouts remain unknown, also tells the story of intra-African labor migration. Zongo reflects on the impact of this migration on families and communities, who often have to cope for months without any news of their loved ones. This film highlights the harsh realities of labor migration and prompts reflection on social and economic inequalities.

The films of Burkinabe director Moustapha Dao question Western theories of aesthetics and the concept of mimesis. In his film “À nous la rue” (1987), children from a working-class neighborhood in Ouagadougou are shown playing, highlighting the importance of children’s imagination as their own reality. Promoting this imagination through extracurricular art education is a central concern of our Opera Village, encouraging children to forge their own paths.

Another highlight was the film “The Lost Prince” by Michel Hazanavicius, known for his award-winning film “The Artist.” Starring Omar Sy, this film demonstrates how contemporary film technology can bring fantasy worlds to the screen. We were very excited to present this film to a Burkinabe audience.

A special treat for young film enthusiasts was “Goshu, le violoncelliste” by Isao Takahata. This enchanting story of an awkward and shy cellist who one day aspires to match his idol, Ludwig van Beethoven, captivated the children. Often scolded by the conductor, Goshu decides to practice seriously for a big concert. Despite his persistence, he makes little progress. Fortunately, he receives help from a group of small animals: a cat, a cuckoo, a badger, and a field mouse. They discreetly teach him virtues like patience, discipline, and the desire to communicate with others. As part of the festival, children also got an insight into the world of Japanese animated films, allowing them to explore the fascinating world of Studio Ghibli.

Another noteworthy film at the festival was “Une femme pas comme les autres” by Abdoulaye Dao from Burkina Faso. In this film, Mina, the CEO of a large company, decides to take on a second partner. This bold and carefree decision is made in an environment where polyandry is viewed with suspicion. But Mina has her reasons, and the film explores these in a brave and open manner.

The KIFIFE Children’s Film Festival in Opera Village Africa, even in its fifth edition, was an impressive program and a platform for cultural exchange and political discussions. This time, we were also able to showcase the program in the schools of the surrounding villages. We already look forward to next year and are excited about the inspiring stories and talents that will await us then.

Photos © Imbrahim J.Konfe

Das KIFIFE Kinderfilmfestival im Operndorf Afrika war auch in seiner fünften Ausgabe ein beeindruckendes Programm und eine Plattform für kulturellen Austausch und politische Diskussionen – und dieses Mal konnten wir das Programm auch in den Schulen der umliegenden Dörfer zeigen. Wir freuen uns schon jetzt auf das nächste Jahr und sind gespannt, welche inspirierenden Geschichten und Talente uns dann erwarten werden.