Director: Jean-Marie Teno
Country: Cameroon / France
Running Time: 70 min.
Set in St-Leon, a modest neighborhood tucked between the cathedral and two mosques in the city of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, where for 40 years, the world’s famous FESPACO (Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou) showcases the best achievements of African filmmaking, Sacred Places is a film about the fight to survive and to maintain one’s dignity in a hostile environment.
Through the lives of three characters: Jules Cesar, the djembé maker and player, Bouba, the video-club manager of a neighborhood movie salon that also serves as a place to pray, and Abbo, a fifty year-old senior technician who decided to become a public letter writer, Teno skillfully lays out his rich, very complex and profound observations on many paradoxes of today’s Africa. One of the many contradictions the director displays is the absence of African films in African distribution at a time of remarkable technological advances. The film takes on many issues, including identity in times of globalization, the state of African cinema and the complicated relationship between art, popular culture and business. Honoring African traditions of oral culture, the director allows the richness of everyday conversations to place the film’s weight on the words that are at the origin of any meaningful action.