THE LAW (1990) [Feature]

Burkina Faso/France (MIFF 1990 )
Director: Idrissa Ouedraogo

In Burkina Faso, the concept of honour is essential in the structure of traditional societies. It rules over any notion of family, of blood. . . "Ya tilai", that is the law. . .

From the director of Yabba, and direct from the Cannes Film Festival where it shared the Grand Prix for best film, we are pleased to present Tilai (Question Of Honour) for its first screening outside of France.

With The Law, Idrissa Ouedraogo confirms the reputation he created for himself last year with Yabba as Africa's most skilled producer, writer and director. He also has a highly personal style and approach.

The themes of Ouedraogo's work are connected to life in his desert village, where he does all his filming, using family and friends in the roles. In Yabba he had a small boy defy village law successfully by befriending an outcast aunt. In this film, however, the law wins when a father takes a son's fiancee to make her his own second wife.

Saga, the son, becomes a criminal when he sullies his father's honour by taking the woman, Nogma, with him to live in hiding. He then is branded guilty of incest, since Nogma officially is his mother. Most everybody in the village is willing to side with the young couple, but the law obviously is the law.

Nobody in The Law is seen as anything less than deeply human. Even the unbending father essentially is a well-meaning man. Ouedraogo doesn't denounce the village traditions, but simply records how life must adhere to certain patterns. As he looks at the villagers with compassion and subtle humour, Ouedraogo shows nature's grand, desolate vistas. All his nonprofessional actors respond just as naturally to the camera's and the director's demands.

One other special charm of Ouedraogo's films is repeated in The Law. He refuses to look at women as victims. All his women walk proud and are as susceptible to foolish pride as any male. In one funny scene, Nogma is bragging about having been nearly raped by a man who actually was only a friendly passing stranger. Saga just smiles at her indulging in this fantasy.

Evocative music, used sparsely, is improvised for the film by a trio led by South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand) - Variety, May 23,1990

- Winner Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival, 1990

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