Director: Sékou Traoré - Burkina Faso / France
In a nameless African country full of corruption and violence, a young, idealistic lawyer, Emma Tou (N’Diaye) works as a court-appointed defense lawyer. She is asked to represent Blackshouam (Assandé) who has been arrested for involvement in the heinous mass murder of an entire village. He was captured not far from the massacre and imprisoned, never speaking a word. He faces the death penalty. There are multiple political implications and as Tou would later learn, personal ones as well. Blackshouam initially refuses to speak to anyone and presents as a person who is completely out of his mind. He is abused by his guards. But slowly, Tou draws him out, beginning the conversation with a cigarette in exchange for a nod. She believes in a fair trial, regardless of who Blackshouam is and what he actually did, continuing with his defense despite opposition from family and colleagues.
Assandé is brilliant as the child soldier growning into a truly troubled and twisted rebel. N’Diaye matches his performance with her portrayal of steely determination and personal conviction. The outstanding actors, suspense and a dramatic ending make this a terrific film.