An interesting if repetitive look at a remarkable association of homeless kids in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou.

Twins Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio take an observational approach to docu reportage in “Bakroman,” an interesting if repetitive look at a remarkable association of homeless kids in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. By organizing themselves into a self-policing union, these youngsters (“bakroman” means “street boy” in the Mossi language) work toward putting the street behind them, arranging for apprenticeships and jobs that offer opportunity and protection from those who prey on society’s weakest. Though too many scenes go in circles, the Turin prize-winner will be a shoo-in at human rights fests.

A large chunk of the film is spent in meetings in which teenage boys, exhibiting impressive psychological and management skills, interview younger cohorts to determine whether they meet the high standards their association, AJER, sets for members. Applicants must give up begging, know what kind of job they want to train for and convince the leaders they’re no longer sniffing glue. In exchange, they receive the first sense of security and hope in their young lives. It’s an uplifting program for participants and auds alike, yet conversations too often cover the same ground. Lighting contrasts are problematic.




A La Sarraz Pictures production, with the support of the Piemonte Doc Film Fund. Produced by Alessandro Borrelli. Directed, written by Gianluca De Serio, Massimilano De Serio.


Camera (color, HD), Gianluca De Serio; editor, Stefano Cravero; sound, Andrea Viali. Reviewed at Turin Film Festival (Italiana.doc), Nov. 29, 2010. Running time: 92 MIN.


(Mossi, French dialogue)
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