Benin filmmaker takes her fight against child labor to school

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Mar 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM EST

Disappointed with a ban on free open air screenings for locals, Benin movie-maker Christiane Chabi Kao decided to take matters into her own hands at Africa's biggest film festival.

After meeting a group of children from a local school who set up their own video club, Kao arranged a Thursday afternoon showing of her television film "Les Inseparables" (The Inseparables) for some 300 Burkinabe students.

"The most important for me is the contact with the audience, not some prize," the 46-year-old director told AFP.

Her film, which has already been shown on Benin television and was officially selected for the television and video competition of the Pan-African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou, deals with the issue of child labour.

In the stifling hot class room in a popular neighbourhood of the city, the teenagers were gripped by the tale of a mother's desperate search for her children sold to work as maids by her husband.

In broad brush strokes, Chabi Kao shows the pitfalls and the dangers the children face including sexual harassment and abuse, triggering a heated discussion about the film afterwards.

"That's just not normal that an employer would abuse a girl like that," Emanuelle, 19, said with outrage.

She loved the film and said it was much better then the Brazilian telenovella soap operas that are screened on local television.

"This deals with a reality, something that is really happening, here in Burkina Faso, in Ghana, in Nigeria," she explained.

For Alizeta, also 19, it was the strength of a mother's love that marked the film.

"It's better that what we see on television because it shows that you should love your children," she insisted.

For Chabi Kao, this praise is better than anything the FESPACO audience can give.

Her films are made to inform kids about child labour and other forms of child abuse but at a festival like FESPACO tickets are just too expensive for her target audience.

"I make movies for children because it is the children who incite change in adults and the children become the adults of tomorrow," she said.




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