Who Is Your Grandfather?

During an annual Mossi people ritual, which takes place in Oueguedo in Burkina Faso, stories of the ancestors are told in drum language. “Who is your grandfather?” cries the master of the ceremony to the chief of the tribe and to all those present, after the ritual sacrifice of a beast. “Who is your grandfather?” In response, the ‘benda’ gives the names of ancestors and tells the anecdotes that relate to them, in rhythm. This is how the oral history is transmitted from generation to generation. Although the idea for the film was inspired by the writings and field studies of the Japanese anthropologist Junzo Kawada, the result is, surprisingly, scarcely academic. Playing with the image editing to find a shared form between the cinematographic gesture and the documented rite, here it is the sensorial experience that takes precedence over knowledge in a fusion of rhythm and words. We will not understand everything that happens on screen, and, how could we? Who is Your Grandfather? thus sounds like an anthropological film saying its goodbyes to scientific knowledge through the medium of cinema itself. (Visions du Réel: Mourad Moussa)