Idrissou Mora-Kpaï

Idrissou Mora-Kpaï

~ Benin

Idrissou Mora-Kpaï (1967, Beroubouay) is a documentary filmmaker who examines contemporary African subjectivities, proposing an alternative for the limited and often distorted image of the continent in western media. One of the most original African documentarists to have emerged in the last decade, his methodology is based on rigorous research that uncovers some of the hidden realities resulting from the complex entanglements of Africa, Asia and Europe in the colonial era. Carefully showing how colonialism created connections between diverse worlds and then shattered them, his films reveal the delicate process of individuals trying to deal with the impact of these ruptures on their personal lives and communities.

         Mora-Kpaï’s subtle approach combines a variety of documentary techniques with fine aesthetics and acute sensitivity to vulnerability and dignity. In Si-Gueriki, la reine-mère (Si-Gueriki, The Queen Mother, 2002), a narrative of return, he shows an intimate portrait of his two mothers. The strong cinematography of Arlit, deuxième Paris (Arlit, the Second Paris, 2005) conveys the impact of uranium mining in Niger;an indictment of external governments’ and multinationals’ plundering of resources with total disregard for the people and environment. Indochine, Sur les traces d’une mère (Indochina, Traces of a Mother, 2010) concerns the descendants of Vietnamese women and the African men conscripted by France for its war against independence in Indochina. At the end of the war, children were forcefully separated from their mothers and sent to Africa either with their fathers or as orphans carrying deep psychological scars and identity conflicts.

Idrissou Mora-Kpaï is honoured for creating beautiful, moving and profound films that offer a nuanced understanding of African identities and contexts; for his commitment to documentary research and visual storytelling along the fault lines of colonialism; for bringing to light repressed histories that have relevance and resonance for large populations of the world; and for demonstrating the importance of cultural production in rectifying social and intellectual conventions based on error.