For any of you gadling travelers in love with Africa, here is a film to see. Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea) is one of the Oscar nominated short films this year, and it’s wonderful. Not depressing. Not war torn. It is sweet and poignant, but not sugary sweet. It has also won 69 awards to date. If you take time to watch it, (see link below) you’ll see why.
From the first shot of a man paddling a dug out canoe on a river lined with mangroves, I said, “I know this place.” At first I thought it was The Gambia, but it turns out it is Senegal. The village in the film could have been my village, N’Jowara when I was in the Peace Corps. I did travel to Casamance where the story takes place. The Gambia divides Senegal in half with Casamance to the south and the section with Dakar to the north. A small part of the film is shot in Ziguinchor, the capital of this particular province, however most of it is on location in a small village that looks like any other small village in West Africa. The compounds with their thatched roof buildings, the thatch fences between each family’s compound, the simple village school, the trucks with their colorful artwork all look just like I remember them.
It’s interesting to read Luis Manso’s discussion about making this film. He is the producer and Javier Fesser is the writer/director. Made in collaboration with UNICEF, the profits are to go to UNICEF, I think.
Here is a link to the film on ifilm.com. http://www.ifilm.com/video/2771644