Strongest as a you-are-there account of the face-off in November 2004 between occupying French troops and protesting students in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan, Sidiki Bakaba’s broadside docu “Bare Hands Victory” accuses the French government of involvement in the deaths of several students. Raggedly assembled with an inchoate picture of recent history in the struggling West African nation, pic is far from conventional political journalism, but it effectively delivers its message that decades after provisional independence, the Ivory Coast remains a plaything of apparently uncaring Gaul politicians. Political and Afro-minded fests will provide a sounding board.
After a summary of founding president Felix Houphouet-Boigny’s years as ruler, Bakaba drops the ball with a fragmented account of the coup-riddled era that followed Houphouet-Boigny’s death in 1999. Pic contends that no matter what France’s motives were for brokering agreements between political and tribal factions, its subsequent military intervention in 2004 was unjustified. Bakaba gets terrific footage of student protests, and inserts damning Canal Plus-produced reports revealing clear evidence of French soldiers gunning down protesters. Subtitles would have been preferable to barely discernable English voiceover.