Gaston Kaboré on African film

September 2005 -

Gaston Kaboré is a celebrated film maker from Burkino Fasso and founder of the film training institution Imagine in Ouagadougou. He enthusiastically explains how film can increase awareness.

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Gaston Kaboré, photo: Erma Beumers

"An African as the main character in a story on screen. Until then, I really had only seen Africans in supporting roles, or portrayed as bad guys. But Borôm saret by Ousmane Sembené, the founder of African film, was a story about real people. This was an emotional turning point for me. My eyes were truly opened. That this could be done with images!"

"Thanks to Ousmane Sembené, I realised that film was not only entertainment, but could also be about one’s awareness of one’s own existence. The film made me question who I was. Good films have taught me much about contradictions within oneself and about social forces. Sometimes a film also makes painful things clear: things or truths that one would prefer to ignore. Once you have seen something, you become responsible."

"Film in Africa can make people face reality. Before things can change, you have to be aware of them. Film helps us to look at the world from a different perspective. It may not actually change lives, but it can come pretty close."

"To me, a good film is a film that leaves an impression. The Japanese film The Naked Island by Kaneto Shindo, for example, was a revelation to me. It is a 1960 silent movie: the power of the images is pure. Fantastic!"

"Other favourites? Charlie Chaplin is the first that comes to mind. That man made wonderful films. They cannot be misunderstood."