Faro - Goddess Of The Waters

Faro - Goddess Of The Waters


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Modern African cinema tends to have an epic feel, with a reliance on lush cinematography coupled with aspects of myth and fable, evident in everything from Berlin Golden Bear winner U-Carmen to the more recent Buried Dreams. Faro – Goddess Of The Waters is no exception, this time taking on the conflict sparked when a traditional way of life is confronted with modernity, or more simply put, a man of science taking on a culture of faith.

Zan (Fly Traoré) is the science guy, returning to his home village to talk to the tribal elder about the possibility of building a new dam to bring prosperity. He believes the village – whose fishermen are utterly dependent on the waters of the title – is caught in a timewarp: “the world evolves but nothing changes here.”

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His mind may be focussed on progress but in returning to the village he must also confront his past. Since his mother Niele (Rokia Traoré) stubbornly refuses to tell him who his father is, he is considered a bastard and, by extension, bad luck. Equally abhorred by the villagers is Kouta (Helene M Diara) who has earned the wrath of her neighbours by refusing to mourn her husband in the traditional fashion.

The scene is set then for a clash between the old and the new and, after an accident in the waters, the locals conclude that Faro – the all-knowing goddess of the title – is angered and must be appeased.

The water rippling around the village mirrors the ebb and flow of relationships within Salif Traoré’s film. This is an exploration of the undercurrents of humanity as belief and fact, dream and prophecy become jumbled together. The film has a mythical air about it, although rooted in reality, as the power of suggestion is quickly seen to be as strong as the authority of science. Beautifully shot and cleverly using the sounds and rhythms of nature to underpin its epic themes, this has a slow pace that rewards the patient viewer.

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2007
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An engineer ties to lay old ghosts to rest when he returns to his home village.

Director: Salif Traoré

Writer: Olivier Lorelle, Salif Traoré

Starring: Fili Traoré, Maimouna Hélène Diarra, Michel Mpambara, Habib Dembele, Helene M Diarra, Rokia Traoré

Year: 2007

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: France, Canada, Mali, Burkina Faso, Germany


EIFF 2007
Leeds 2007

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If you like this, try:

Buried Dreams