Tasuma, The Fighter

  • 2002
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

The first film ever released simultaneously in the United Sates and its native Africa, Burkinabe filmmaker Kollo Daniel Sanou's clever comedy masks a sharp indignation. Dedicated to those "forgotten by history," it pays tribute to those Africans from the former colonies who were drafted into the French army, fought for causes in which they had no stake and...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The first film ever released simultaneously in the United Sates and its native Africa, Burkinabe filmmaker Kollo Daniel Sanou's clever comedy masks a sharp indignation. Dedicated to those "forgotten by history," it pays tribute to those Africans from the former colonies who were drafted into the French army, fought for causes in which they had no stake and were subsequently largely forgotten by the Motherland. Elderly but still hale, Sogo Sanon (Mamadou Zerbo) — nicknamed Tasuma ("The Fighter") by his fellow villagers — is one such veteran. Throughout the 1950s he fought under the French flag in locales as distant his Burkino Faso home as Indochina and as close as Algeria. Having retired from his lengthy military service in 1962, Sogo lives in quiet impoverishment with his wife, Dafra, in Koro, a tiny farming village inconveniently perched high atop a rocky hill. And now, only 40 years after the fact, Sogo is about to receive something the French government has promised for years: his soldier's pension. Or so Sogo thinks. After bicycling all the way to the city of Bobo and waiting on a long line with his fellow veterans, Sogo is told that all the computers have crashed and that no payments will be made today. They'll all have to come back tomorrow. Disheartened, Sogo nevertheless allows a slippery city salesman to tempt him with what the village women, who risk crushing their fingers by grinding millet the traditional way — by hand, need most: a motorized mill. The dealer, however, warns of the pitfalls that accompany buying on credit: There's not only an 18 percent surcharge, but if Sogo doesn't pay up on time, he could be in serious trouble. Certain that he'll receive his pension the next day, Sogo agrees to the sale and orders the mill delivered to Koro. But after biking all the way back to Bobo the following morning, Sogo learns his pension is caught in a bureaucratic tangle and there's no telling when he'll finally receive what the French government has owed him since 1962. Despite his dead serious subject, Sanou appreciates the comic absurdity that can sometimes be found deep within great injustices, and his film is often very funny. It's also virtually a musical: Sogo and his fellow vets routinely break into ironic song to celebrate having done their military duty to France, or to complain about having grown sick from poverty. The women, meanwhile, sing about marital affairs and, finally, their hero: Sogo.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The first film ever released simultaneously in the United Sates and its native Africa, Burkinabe filmmaker Kollo Daniel Sanou's clever comedy masks a sharp indignation. Dedicated to those "forgotten by history," it pays tribute to those Africans from the f… (more)

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