Cannes Film Festival, where nonfictional films about the state of a family in an unstable country make the headlines in a world of fictional films and celebrity hype; or so you’d think. The festival thrives from the glamorous exposure everyone outside the industry sees it as, which is partly true. Yet, somewhat hidden from the main attraction are certain films that provide consciousness into other realities of the world.
Souleymane Cissé brought reality into perspective with his film, Oka. He narrates the story of how his family, primarily his sisters, lost the property rights of their home to another family. Resulting in them getting evicted without any justifiable grounds. Unlawfully forbidding them to live in their own house without taking into consideration their age or the documents they have to show proof that it’s their house. Since 2008 the Cissé family has yet to take back the home the sisters lost. Albeit their fight for their rights, the Malian judicial system has been unproductive. This story stimulates debate about the corruption in Mali, how many individuals and families have succumbed to the unfairness of the law.
The political strife Mali and its people go through is unjust, Cissé shows that. His film vividly presents how corrupt it is, how powerless his sisters are as women and how troubling the future of his country is. Countries that are politically unstable have vulnerable societies. When unjust things occur like, losing a home due to corruption, it is very easy for insurgent groups to form and rise in revolt for justice. Cissé focuses on making things right, his last narrative is hopeful and filled with nature and kids playing on a field. He gracefully hones the importance of not seeking revenge but education instead. His perception of the future relies on children which he fluidly elucidates. They make up nearly half the Malian population, therefore the future of Mali is upon them. You undoubtedly begin to understand the significance of the film and what it means to his family and most of all “oka,” his home country.
Danielle is a political science and global communications undergraduate student from Miami, Florida. She recently attended the 68th Cannes Film Festival for Shadow & Act and covered the screening of Oka by Souleymane Cissé.