I came across this a couple of days ago while searching online for information about another film. Actually, it was the image that caught my attention, only to then find out that it’s going to be screening at Cannes as part of the Director’s Fortnight sidebar. Written and directed by Belgian filmmaker Gust Van den Berghe, Blue Bird traverses the world and imaginations of two young African siblings as they go in search of a missing pet.
The official synopsis reads:
Blue Bird is a story about how one day in a child’s life can change its world. One morning, Bafiokadié and his sister Téné, two African children, leave their village. The only thing on their mind is to find their lost blue bird before the day is over. But they will find much more along their way: they encounter their deceased grand-parents, they fight the soul of the forest and learn from the Chief of Pleasure. Everyone tells them a story about life and death. At the end of their long journey, the brother and sister enter the Kingdom of the Future and meet some yet-to-be born children. Delighted with this discovery, they eventually return home. For as we lose something we gain something.
Promising to be something of a magical mystery tour, it reminds that the kinds of superstitions that seem to typify African folk lore are, in fact, quite universal themes – themes that often frequent Nollywood stories but go headlong into battle with the newer theology of Christianity in a fight of good vs evil (and where the newer always equals good). However, whether as fantasy or superstition, while modern African cinema tends to want to denounce or distance itself from such themes, they are themes that children and adults of all ages and cultures can relate to, whether on a purely magical flight of fancy or as allegorical means to seek answers to life’s existential mysteries.
This is one that is certainly on my Cannes “to-see” list, and I look forward to seeing how a Belgian man traverses this esoteric terrain via an African route and through the eyes and minds of two African children.