Sundance 2023: Bravo, Burkina!, Divinity, To Live and Die and Live | Festivals & Awards

Shot by Jake Saner, this is a movie that constantly flows—its handheld camera is always walking into its compelling framings or flying around its characters. The shots are lengthy, but each cut moves the story along. This helps “Bravo, Burkina!” have a preternatural touch with time, as it depicts a boy named Aimé (played young by Alaian Tiendrebeogo) living in a Burkinabe village. Oyéjidé’s camera runs with him as he flies a kite, and shows his point-of-view as he sits on a wall and sees a man come back to the village with Italian clothes on, creating a dreaminess. The cows go missing, and his father tells him he should have taken care of the cows. Aimé runs away. 

“Bravo, Burkina!” jumps forward in time, with an older Aimé pulling himself out of a water fountain (one of the movie’s many effective but practical transitions). Aimé now lives in Italy, working with lamps and leather. Played here by Mousty Mbaye, Aimé meets a woman named Asma (Aissata Deme) who captivates him. The two quickly become bonded. They walk in between columns in Italian architecture and share an otherworldly connection that’s not meant to last. Their chemistry is balletic, achieving just enough sense of character and mystery for the film to lead into a third act of longing and reflection. 

The multi-hyphenate Oyéjidé has a background in fashion design, an element that shines through the fabric color of the clothes for his limited characters—sometimes Aimé covers his regally-poised body in the art of a famous painting. With such flourishes, “Bravo, Burkina!” maintains a vivid sense of texture and location (Burkina and Italy) while its filmmaking elegantly moves time and memory. How rare for a movie to play out like a dream you can also touch. 

It’s tricky to properly review a flesh-and-blood anomaly like Eddie Alcazar’s “Divinity,” which played in the festival’s NEXT section. For starters, it has to be one of the strangest projects that Steven Soderbergh has put an executive producer credit to (the movie’s flashy, ‘80s-futuristic credits place it as “Steven Soderbergh Presents”). “Divinity” is a black-and-white acid trip pumped with steroids, “Twin Peaks”-adjacent ominousness, and hunger for human flesh. It starts with the product in the title: Divinity is the name of a miracle drug that defies aging. Nearly every woman has become infertile in this period of human existence, with everyone focusing on being beautiful instead. 

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