Here’s some first-look footage for a film we’ve been tracking for a little while, which premiered at the Berlinale, and has apparently been picked up by Al Jazeera (although it’s not available on the new American extension) titled Espoir Voyage (translation would be something like Hopeful Voyage, or Hopeful Journey, or Voyage Of Hope) by Burkinabe filmmaker Michel K Zongo.
In the acclaimed documentary, Zongo sets off to the Ivory Coast to find out what happened to his lost brother, Joanny, who left for the country years prior, searching, like so many others, for work in the more affluent neighboring country, but he never returned.
The France/Burkina Faso co-production took about 3 years to complete, and finale made its international debut at the prestigious Berlinale in the Forum section last year. It played at at least one American film festival (Hot Docs) in the same year. Currently, it can be found screening as part of Al Jazeera’s Witness documentary series; but, again, it isn’t available for American viewers, thanks to the network’s recent Al Jazeera America extension, which I don’t care for, given the loss in programming, as a lot of the great series that I once used to watch on Al Jazeera, before the creation of the American extension, are no longer available for American audiences, who are now being forced to watch the American version only.
Although I won’t be surprised if Zongo’s film finds its way to online channels the rest of us can readily access, sooner or later. Or maybe it’ll be released on DVD, or digital download eventually.
I did find an interview with Zongo from 2010 in which he does talk about this particular project; the interview was all in French, so I had to translate. This is what I came up with:
A history of my older brother who left when I was only four years, and so I don’t know him. I just have the image of someone who was bigger than me. I always expected him to come back. There was a rite of passage for those his age: he had to leave and return, assert himself and earn some money to get married, buy a bike, build a house. To be a man basically. He left like many of his generation and he never returned. And twenty years later, I grew up, of course, and learned through a nephew that he died there 2 or 3 years before. I never was able to digest that information. There was a funeral, so it was not a rumor. I tried to make the journey to follow the path he took, by following the same route, which took me to Ivory Coast where I found the town where he lived, and his former employer because he worked in the plantations. The film is built around my meetings, travel, research of his history. This was an opportunity to meet lots of people, including compatriots from Burkina Faso who worked in the forest. I was able to share moments of joy, grief, and dreams; around connecting the lines between him and me, as I took this journey. So it’s very personal… This film was also initiation for me… I learned about him by making the film. Suddenly, I understood his choice. So it worked as a therapeutic approach. No doubt, because even if I were not a filmmaker, I would have still have taken this trip. It’s a chance to be a director and to use my own stories and share them with others. For me, in film, this is it! If your own story can be a movie, it’s great because it’s closer to you!
The full interview can be found HERE for those French speakers who might appreciate it more.
I like the stark look of this, and would like to see more. So let’s hope it travels.
Here’s the clip (courtesy of Hot Docs):