Yaaba Review

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A boy approaching maturity, Bila (Ouedraogo), befriends an old woman, Sana, who everyone in the village ostracises and refers to as the 'witch.' Bila, though, forms a close bond and refers to her as 'Yaaba,' meaning 'Grandmother'.


This tale of two children and an old woman, in which the most momentous event is the girl falling ill, may sound like its appeal begins and ends with students of anthropology. However this winner of the 1989 International Critics Prize at Cannes is suffused with such a vivid sense of village life in the West African state of Burkina Faso, conveyed through the magical freshness of the children’s eyes, and is so superbly acted by the local cast, that it is quite simply entrancing.

Yaaba is not high drama, and searched out by those looking for an action-packed night at the pictures, it is wasted. But for those prepared to take in another world on face value, it’s fabulous.

A wonderful portrait of Third World life that will leave you with a sense of real peace.