The kind of informative ethnographic docu pubcaster audiences will enjoy, “Si-Gueriki, the Queen Mother” offers an insider’s view into a Wassangari tribal village in Benin, where the women work and the men idle under trees. Everything is seen through the amused, respectful eyes of young helmer and expat Idrissou Mora-Kpai, who moved to Germany to study filmmaking. His initial intention to recount the life of his proud warrior father, now deceased, is overturned when, for the first time, he gets to know his mother and discovers she is not the lowly vassal he thought.
Performing her household chores in the women’s compound, mom explains how patriarchal tradition dictated Wassangari children be raised without strong maternal bonds. Girls, once valued only as wives and mothers, nowadays have begun to leave their husbands, study, and run their own small businesses. Only at film’s end does Mora-Kpai reveal that, by virtue of her aristocratic birth, his mother has become queen of the region and leads a parallel life as a traveling regent. Alexandra Kordes’ fine lensing and rigorous framing capture gorgeous African scenes, while Marianne Entat’s music selection mixes Western and local sounds.