Apolline Traoré won the Panorama Audience Award at Berlinale ’23 for this unflinching look at the crisis plaguing the Sahel region of Northern Africa.
Offering an unflinching look at the ongoing brutal crisis plaguing the Sahel region of Northern Africa, Burkinabée director Apolline Traoré returns to the Festival with her intense fifth feature, Sira, an award-winning epic drama commanding a bold and steadfast focus on the strength and well-being of the region’s women and girls.
Carried by camel train and the excitement of her relatives, young bride-to-be Sira (Nafissatou Cissé) is crossing the desert in the Fulani tradition to be with her betrothed, Jean Sidi (Abdramane Barry). On an unplanned stop, armed extremists attack and raid their nomadic village, killing the men. Brutalized and then abandoned, Sira begins another long journey across the arid landscape. But the path she has chosen leads her right into the assailants’ camp. Refusing to surrender to her fate, and learning quickly how to live off the land, Sira decides to keep her enemies close and take cover in a nearby cave, preparing patiently for her moment to strike.
Winner of the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale, and the Silver Stallion of Yennenga prize at Fespaco 2023, Sira marks a renewed cinematic achievement for Traoré, who blends an impressive use of scale, colour, and urgent social critique into a thrilling and unforgettable story of survival. However, it is the stoic physicality of Cissé’s remarkable debut performance that will leave audiences spellbound.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: violence, sexual content, coarse language, nudity