Sira is the International Feature submission for Burkina Faso. The film is about Sira, a member of a nomadic Fulani tribe. They’ve been travelling across the desert for the past five days through the Sahel. This Muslim tribe is headed towards the small town of Koursa for a wedding. Sira is the bride and she’s set to marry a Christian farmer Jean-Sidi. Despite Sharia being against a Muslim/Christian wedding, the tribe chief Tidiane has allowed it to happen as love is the most important thing.
One morning, as the tribe is getting ready to start moving again, they’re confronted by a group of militia men. They claim to be searching for two men who’ve murdered a tribal chief in a neighbouring town. As Tidiane approaches the armed men, he’s assassinated along with all the other men in the tribe. Sira is kidnapped, by the head boss Yere, where she’s raped and left for dead. With no food or water, and clinging to life, Sira somehow manages to reach the camp of the terrorists, by luck, where she survives by stealing the essentials during the night. Sira now has to figure out how to fight for her life in an unforgiving environment, right in the middle of an ISIS terrorist cell.
Spanning the area from Senegal to Eritrea, situated between the Sahara to the north and the African tropics to the south, the Sahel region has long faced severe, complex security and humanitarian crises. Violence, conflict, and crime have surged over the last decade, transcending national borders and posing significant challenges to countries both in and outside the region. The rise of ISIS in the Sahel has caused the deterioration of peace in the area, as deadly attacks against civilians have surged. This instability has displaced millions of people, including the nomadic Fulani people.
The film doesn’t shy away from depicting the reality of life for men, and especially for women, who’re held in camps across the desert. Young women are enslaved against their will by the Islamist regime in make-shift barracks. They’re treated as chattels and sexual slaves while young men are brainwashed and trained for future wars against the military. It is a raw and gripping watch with a satisfactory resolution. It feels like a losing battle in a region where instability has become the norm.
Our countries are painted in red but we live there. Life goes on, we have to survive.