Les Prières de Delphine
This film is the portrait of Delphine, a young Cameroonian girl. Like others, she belongs to the generation of young African women crushed by our patriarchal societies and abandoned to Western sexual colonization as her only means of survival. Through her courage and strength, she exposes these patterns of domination that continue to lock up African women.
Rosine’s camera is trying to find a place in Delphine’s bedroom. It is full of clutter, as is Delphine. She carries within her a suffering that has horns, as she herself so aptly puts it. An inexhaustible storyteller, she talks about her life from her bed, sitting, lying down, slumped back, but always made up. She chooses playfulness to convey horror and unabashed humour to reveal the density of her life. The resentment against her father, the death of her niece, the body stolen from her, which she sells, finds again, then again gives away. The itinerary of a young woman, sacrificed, unheard and without support, whose survival has depended on learning the ropes of the banal practice, “every man for himself”, and a single objective, leave. Opposite her, Rosine stays put, caught up in a film of listening. Her choice is sincere and radical, no need to look elsewhere, illustrate or show anything other than Delphine’s face. The filmmaker holds on tightly to the narrative of her compatriot, who tells her about a Cameroon far-removed from the one she knows: the mechanisms in place, the persistent contradictions and systems of domination through which Delphine has tried to make her way, as far as “the paradise of the Whites” where she has encountered just as much suffering. From her sordid, lucid and far too earthy stories, a final trance emerges lamenting her past life – a lament that only an uncompromising film of confession is able to release. A final supplication for the sacred to intervene and have misfortune pour out elsewhere. Delphine has suffered enough. She reminds us of another bed where a very distant sister, Françoise Lebrun, also wept, “there are no whores on earth, damn it, understand that”, and appealed to love to sweep away her “shitty fate”.
A fiction and documentary filmmaker, Rosine Mbakam graduated from the Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle et des Techniques de Diffusion (INSAS) in 2012. She grew up in Cameroon and trained in Yaoundé thanks to the teams of the Italian NGO, Centro Orientamento Educativo (COE). With them, in 2000, she began to learn camerawork, editing and filmmaking. She first made a short fiction film, Tu seras mon allié, which won awards in several international festivals. In 2017, she made Les Deux visages d’une femme bamileke, her first feature-length documentary, which was screened in over sixty festivals (IFFR Rotterdam, Fespaco…). Her next film, Chez jolie coiffure, drew an even bigger audience (Dok Leipzig, True/False, AFI Fest Los-Angeles, Fespaco…).Both films were acclaimed by the critics (New-Yorker, New-York Times, LA Times, Variety…).She launched Caravane Cinéma, which organises open-air screenings to ensure the exhibition of African films in poor neighbourhoods. She also teaches at KASK in Ghent (Belgium).