It may be easy to be a landowning family in the West, but we can’t say the same the Coulibalys. The Coulibalys own land in Burkina Faso. Checki, one of the patriarch’s sons, collect rent from older men who speaks of how their power dynamic would be different had the French not come to their country. Pardon the digression. Anyway, these rents are still not enough to cover their bills, including trash collection which, apparently, isn’t a government service in Burkina Faso. Regardless, life will be more difficult for the Coulibalys after the death of the family’s patriarch in Mecca.
Al Djanat – The Original Paradise, then, captures the conflict between the patriarch’s brothers and sons. One faction wants to sell the land, seeing that they might lose both the land and the money it’s worth later on, while the other wants to keep the land. A member of the family and the film’s director Chloé Aichä Leterrier Boro observes these conflict among men and how its puts women as the conflict’s collateral damage. One of the people she pays attention to is her cousin Assanatou. Through Assanatou, she captures another conflict – one among African, Islamic, and French legal traditions.
Boro uses her family and subjects as symbols of internal battles while illuminating them as people with flesh and blood. They are their own persons as systems make them as pawns within a dispute symbolic of bigger and more conceptual conflicts. Nonetheless Boro shows that life goes on. Mother give birth to and raise children, and mosques hold their Friday prayers both indoors and outdoors. The Coulibaly men raise and slaughter sheep to sell to those who need meat. The women sing songs to lament that their traditions are withering away, hoping that someone out there hear their dissenting voices.
- Release Date: 5/7/2023