Taafe Fanga

Taafe Fanga" --- which translates loosely as "Skirt Power" --- is a beautifully lensed if slightly overlong tale of how the women in a village in Mali turn the tables on their menfolk, to humorous and profound effect. Blend of folksy superstition and social realism, bolstered by spirited thesping, adds up to a pic that doesn't skirt the issues and doesn't bang viewers over the head with them. Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the most recent Fespaco festival, Drabo's second feature (following 1991's "Ta Dona") is a natural for other fests and a potential source of inspiration to women nearly everywhere. When her semi-shiftless husband fails to gather wood before dusk, exasperated Yamene (Fanta Berete) heads off into the brush, despite local legend that a glimpse of the spirits who lurk outside the perimeter after nightfall will drive a soul mad.

With:
Fanta Berete, Ramata Drabo, Ibrahim S. Koita, Helene Diarra, Teneman Sanogo, Michel Sangare, Sidiki Diabate, Baco Dagnon.

Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask.

Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. With the help of a female friend (whose hubby neglects her and is about to take a second, teenage wife), Yamene dons the imposing mask at a village get-together and poses as the no-nonsense spirit everyone fears. She lays down the new social order with booming authority: From now on, men and women are to trade places. The men will do the grunt work of hauling water, cooking and cleaning, while the women will switch from wraparound skirts to men’s clothing and take it easy in the shade.

The guys figure out right away that a woman’s work is never done, but they’re afraid to buck the spirit’s instructions. As the men reconsider their past behavior, Yamene’s adorable daughter greets and hides a young woman who stumbles into town covered with scrapes and bruises, claiming that if she doesn’t get the mask back, there will be terrible consequences. But Yamene needs the mask to enforce the new system of women running the show.

Final resolution is a bit long in coming, but basic premise and its exploration of the abuse of power is solidly entertaining. Polished lensing in sun-drenched village is gorgeous, other tech credits pro, and music and sound design are fine.

Taafe Fanga

Mali-German

Production: A Taare Films release of a CNPC (Mali)/ZDF, Projet Eine Welt (Germany) co-production, with participation of the Malian and French Ministries of Culture, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CNC, Fonds Sud Cinema, ACCT, the European Union. (International sales: Atria, Paris.) Produced by Adama Drabo. Executive producer, Atriascop (France). Directed by Adama Drabo. Screenplay, Drabo, based on his play

Crew: Camera (color), Lionel Cousin; editor, Rose Evans Decreane; music, Harouna Barry, Badema; production design, Kletigui Dembele; costume design, Kandjura Coulibaly; sound, Elvire Lerner. Reviewed at Club de l'Etoile screening room, Paris, April 28, 1997. (In Cannes Film Festival --- Directors Fortnight.) Running time: 100 MIN. Bamanan dialogue

With: Fanta Berete, Ramata Drabo, Ibrahim S. Koita, Helene Diarra, Teneman Sanogo, Michel Sangare, Sidiki Diabate, Baco Dagnon.

More Film

  • Anita Hill

    Anita Hill Chairs Hollywood Anti-Sexual Harassment Commission Formed by Top Execs

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • Warren Beatty

    Arnon Milchan Sues Warren Beatty Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • Oscar Isaac Addams Family

    Oscar Isaac in Talks to Voice Gomez Addams in Animated 'Addams Family' Movie

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • Jennifer Lawrence

    Publicists for Jennifer Lawrence, Daisy Ridley, Amy Adams Form New Firm

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • Hannah Marks Liana Liberato

    Hannah Marks, Liana Liberato to Star in High School Comedy 'Banana Split'

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • NOR_D01_053017_9621_R2 – L-R: Tom Hanks (Ben

    Steven Spielberg's 'The Post' to Open Palm Springs Film Festival

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

  • Willa Fitzgerald

    'The Goldfinch' Movie Adaptation Casts Willa Fitzgerald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sure enough, alone after dark, Yamene is confronted by a procession of creepy dwarf-size spirits and a tall humanoid creature wearing a rectangular mask with glowing ruby eyes. Yamene initially freaks out but ends up wrestling the larger spirit and seizing the mask. Hubby’s macho reaction to his wife’s return leads to an inspired prank. […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content