In Burkina Faso, a country confronted with poverty and archaic traditions, ancestral customs are often revered as law. It should come as no surprise when the people of the village of Saana, already faced with a lack of rain and withering crops, are quick to attribute the sudden and inexplicable rash of dying village children to the curse of a ‘soul eater': a woman with occult and malignant powers who is often understood to be responsible for such misfortune. To remove the curse, a woman that is cast as a ‘soul eater' must quickly be forced to leave the village.
The mysterious epidemic killing the children of Saana is believed to be the work Napoko. A mother to 16-year-old beauty Pougbila, Napoko's objection to her husband's decision to force Pougbila into a hasty marriage aroused the suspicions of her husband, as well as more powerful villager leaders. Presumed to be the village ‘soul eater', the proud old woman is accused of witchcraft, and expelled from Saana. Shunned by all, unable to obtain food or drink, Napoko doggedly walks all the way to the capital Ougadougou, where she is quickly swallowed up by the big city. When Pougbila defies her father and sets off in search of her lost mother, Delwende generates tremendous momentum, driving toward the common goal of mystery stories and melodramas: the truth will out.
It is hard to think of a film in which the image of walking is used more centrally or forcefully, as mother and daughter stride down dusty country paths and teeming city streets, battered but unbroken in their refusal to bow before ignorance. A prize-winner at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and a worthy companion to such landmarks of feminist-themed African cinema as Moolaadé and Faces of Women, Delwende (the title comes from the name of one of the shelters that house the remarkable number of women scapegoated as witches) tells a rousing story of women's courage in the face of patriarchal injustice. The film's vigorous style enhanced by bustling backgrounds and gliding camera movements reinforces both its impassioned political stance and the extraordinary resolve of its two central characters.
90 min., Unrated
In Moore and French with English Subtitles
Written and Directed by
Director of Photography
SS. PIERRE YAMEOGO
MARC DE BACKER
CHEF JOSEPH KPOBLY
S. PIERRE YAMEOGO
A Dunia Productions and Les FILMS De L'espoir & Thelma Films AG co-production with the support of Fond Francophone de Production Audiovisuelle du Sud, Unidea - UniCrédit Foundation, Direction du Cinéma National du Burkina Faso TV5, Direction générale de la Coopération Internationale et du Développement, Fonds Images Afrique et du fonds Sud Ministère des Affaires Etrangères -France- TVOR Soyaf
Diarrha (Pougbila's father)
Elie (The Radio Man)