La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis by Argentinean directors Andrea Testa and Francisco Marquez

Saw La Larga Noche de Francisco Sanctis by Argentinean directors Andrea Testa and Francisco Marquez, on the flight back form Mexico.  Very little dialogue.  Long stretches of Francisco walking through the streets, but it is short.  You need to know the background of the junta in Argentina in 1977 and the reality of the disappearances and the Montoneros.

The point, I think, is to give you the time to think, daydreamingly, about what you would do in this situation.  All the more relevant as we think about Trump’s response to what seems an inevitable constitutional process to oust him, if not this year then at some point.  The man seems to be certifiable: advocating police brutality, calling for joint cybersecurity with Russia, lashing out at the fourth estate, firing and hiring based on whim and unctuousness. As he gets older, surrounds himself with family and sycophants, alienates more Republicans, and comes under more pressure, he will increasingly cross legal lines and become more and more vulnerable to impeachment.  When that happens, he might well pull the state of emergency ploy.  Michael Flynn, one does not doubt, would be happy to come back and clean up “the carnage.”  And then every person will have to make those small decision like Francisco Sanctis.

Posted in Book and film reviews

Ana Cristina Barragan’s film ‘Alba’

Saw this movie on flight back from Mexico.  Tremendous. Very quiet.  Let’s say it is the opposite of triumphalism, fascism, inyourfaceism, and instead embodies every virtue related to empathy, caring, and grace.  Of course watching a movie like this on an airplane is already a recipe for teary sniffling, but when two-thirds of the way through the movie prominently features the song Eres tú, from the Basque/Spanish youth group Mocedades, which came out in 1973, and you know only a tiny fraction of all humanity was also 11 years old that same year (like me) and grew up speaking Spanish (like me) and was very shy (like me), and associates that kind of folky, choral guitar song with all the young people who were brutalized by fascist regimes like Franco’s (like me), well then you will be crying a torrent inside, for all the lost souls.

A nice review here:

Ana Cristina Barragan’s Alba. A mostly wordless, beautifully understated study of the multiple growing pains of a cripplingly shy 11-year-old girl, the film follows a series of Barragan shorts on the theme of troubled childhood. It is loaded with weepie potential but diligently shuns the facile at every turn, playing it for an emotional truthfulness which is embodied in a fine, trembling central performance by Macarena Arias and in its sensitive, empathetic script. Alba has been garnering festival plaudits, most recently at Toulouse’s Latin American film platform, but deserves more.

Source: ‘Alba’: Film Review | Hollywood Reporter

Posted in Book and film reviews

New FAVL photos books published through for distribution in libraries in Burkina Faso

Over the past months, our team in Burkina Faso, led by national director Sanou Dounko, have produced almost 20 new photo books. These books are in French, and appeal to young readers in the villages. You can get previews (and order some!) at

new fastpencil books july 2017

Posted in Burkina Faso

The AfLIA Leadership Academy – Call for Applications

AfLIA is collaborating with the Public Library Association of the USA (PLA) to establish the AfLIA Leadership Academy aimed at: Building the knowledge, skills and confidence of library leaders to act in innovative and creative ways in meeting community needs Supporting library leaders to foster partnerships between libraries and government agencies, the private sector, NGOs, civil society, and faith-based organizations to work together to improve the lives of community members; and Strengthening library leaders’ skills and assisting them to renew approaches to library services, tangibly improving the value libraries bring to communities.AfLIA therefore invites applications from librarians working in public and national libraries to participate in the AfLIA Leadership Academy due to start in January 2018 and will last for eight months. It aims at supporting middle managers in African public and national libraries to be true leaders in their communities. Participants will, after participating in the Academy: Understand the nature and requirements of effective leadership including an introspect into one’s leadership style; Gain a deep understanding of how to manage change and how to effectively carry out civic engagement; Apply the concept of Asset Based Community Development using the assets within their communities to bring about positive change; Understand the opportunities offered and challenges posed by partnering with both library and non-library organisations, and Form a network of engaged and transforming library leaders ready to lead in taking their national, African and Global Development agendas forward.

Source: African Library & Information Associations & Institutions

Posted in Development thinking, Reading | 3 Comments

‘Wallay’ by Berni Goldblat

After an opening flash-forward, we follow 13-year-old Ady (Diarra) causing a small ruckus in his French banlieue, leaving his desperate dad with few options but to ship him out of town. Arriving in Burkina Faso to stay in the remote village of his authoritarian uncle Amadou (Hamadoun Kassougue), Ady believes he’s only visiting for a week, but soon learns that he’s stuck on permanent vacation until he reimburses money he stole from his father.Like most kids his age, all Ady cares about is his telephone, his Beats by Dre-style headphones and whatever music (in this case, French rap) he’s into at the moment. But those creature comforts can only take him so far in a place with limited electricity and means of communication, especially after his uncle confiscates his passport and Ady is forced to live the hard knock life that everyone in his Burkinabe family is already used to.Working from a script by David Bouchet, Golblat — who’s of Swiss-Burkinabe origin and has a background in documentaries — initially shows Ady reacting with an expected mix of rebellion and disbelief to his sudden change of living conditions. But the kid gradually opens up to a new world and a new way of being, with his cousin, Jean (Ibrhaim Koma, who starred in the Malian crime film Wulu) and his grandmother, Mame (Josephine Kabore), showing him more love and affection than he ever seemed to get back home in Franc

Source: ‘Wallay’ review | Hollywood Reporter

Posted in Burkina Faso

Latrines in village in Burkina Faso

Posted in Burkina Faso

Great commentary by Hamidou Anne about Macron comments #Africa #France

And a chance to look up the word élucubrations!

Frères Africains, consacrons notre énergie à ce qui en vaut la peine ! Si les élucubrations d’un enfant gâté de la République nous font autant sortir de nos gonds, c’est nous qui avons un problème profond avec nous-mêmes. Je ne fustige pas la colère, elle est nécessaire. Il nous faut évidemment savoir nous indigner face aux malheurs et aux injustices du monde. Mais utiliser notre énergie pour réagir aux propos d’un président français pendant que les Burundais, les Congolais, les Sud-Soudanais meurent à cause de l’inaction coupable, voire complice, de nos dirigeants africains est une perte de temps.

Source: « Frères Africains, répondons par le mépris aux élucubrations d’Emmanuel Macron ! »

Posted in Burkina Faso, Development thinking