Almodou | Chicago Reader


Call me Eurocentric, but the story told by this 2002 Senegalese video is so Dickensian it could have been serialized in a Victorian newspaper. Based on journalistic exposes of abusive Koranic schools, it follows the trials of a young boy in Dakar (Doudou Guillaume Faye) entrusted by his parents to a Fagin-like teacher (Bassirou Diakhate) who sends his pupils out into the street to beg and beats them if they return without his daily tribute of 200 francs. The boy is befriended by a kindly street merchant, but after he hits the jackpot with a well-placed bet on the American Grand Prix his slimy teacher comes looking for him, eager to claim the cash. The direction and camerawork are rudimentary at best, but the details of street life seem authentic, and I was hooked by the bipolar tale of an innocent caught between pure and corrupt adults. In Wolof and French with subtitles. 85 min.


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