Film Review: Looking At The Culture of Resistance in Burkina Faso’s Creative Scene in Burkinabé Rising

In line with the ethos of the work Iara Lee does with Cultures of Resistance, the Brazilian filmmaker looks to the organic and widespread nature of resistance inherent in Burkina Faso’s art scene for her latest film, Burkinabé Rising. The documentary set to be released via Cultures of Resistance in 2018, takes a cursory look at the political and social nature of this landlocked francophone state and seeks to unearth and expose the world to the brooding resistance culture prevalent mainly among the youth.


Through 70 minutes on screen the film zig zags along the lives and careers of various creative individuals, who position their work as a by-product of the political climate that exist in the film. As such, most of the commentary revolves around the events of October 28, 2014, when citizen of the country vehemently resisted the attempted by dictator Blaise Compare to extend his tenure by amending the constitution.

The film on its own is a much needed and well research exposition of the art scene in Burkina Faso. Aside FESPACO, the world renowned film festival, very little about the creative industry in Burkina is broadcast despite the abounding talents in various spaces from craft and architecture in the Kassena building styles to contemporary art and street art. Burkinabe Rising links the inherent drive amongst these artists to challenge established and oppressive power through their work. As such, most artist who are interviewed, including Adonis Nebie, Malika la Slameuse and Qu’on Sonne & Voix-Ailes, speak of their involvement in the 2014 uprising, be it through protesting, or creating work that catalysed the atmosphere of change that sparked the nationwide revolution.

Photo of Adonis Nebie. Courtesy of the artist.

Thomas Sankara, the country’s pan-african former leader and revolutionary icon is also heavily centered in the film. It’s quite interesting to notice how a majority of the artists who were interviewed were heavily inspired by his work, having barely experienced his short-lived by high impact reign which is testament of the immortality of his ideas and personality

Despite the cross section of unique narrative presented, the film fails to weave them together into a compelling sequence. It begins as an exposition into the role of the creative industry in catalysing the culture of resistance in the country that led to the revolution in 2014. However, it fails to establish very compelling evidence of these links between the work of the artists and activists and the fall of Blaise Compaore. On one angle, it’s a perfect exposition of the creative scene. However, it makes you earn for more, especially after listening to some of the submission. One women for instance, make the most powerful submission in the film where she explains how women of Burkina established the economic power in their homes for the men to be able to protest in the street. This nuance is worth a further probe of the gender politics in the country and how it shapes the culture of resistance. However, the film leaves it at the surface.

Courtesy of Sophia Garcia.

Burkinabé Rising is definitely worth the viewing as it might be the broadest showcase of Burkina Faso’s arts and culture catalogue in one sitting. Iara Lee manages to pack the political history and social condition of the people into the film whilst defining the characteristic of the art fuelled culture of resistance in the state. In a way it compels the viewer to look beyond the screen and find out more about this country producing such political charged artistic work.

© Cultures of Resistance Films.

Written by Hakeem Adam

Images: © Cultures of Resistance Films, Sophia Garcia and Adonis Nebie


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