5 days
France, 2019

Original music : Rodolphe Burger Production : Les Films du Bilboquet, Lyon Capitale TV

Programmed by Olivier Barlet


After Burkina Faso’s October 2014 popular uprising, the young poet Bikontine decides to go meet his fellow citizens along the country’s only rail line. From South to North, through cities and villages, he learns about their dreams and disappointments, confronting his poetry with the realities of a rapidly shifting society. His journey ultimately reveals the enduring political legacy of one of Burkina Faso’s storied former presidents, Thomas Sankara.

Tënk's opinion

For her first feature film, Lucie Viver sets out alone to accompany the poet Bikontine. She operates the camera and records the sound. And off they set along the railway line’s great diagonal from the South West heading north. Sankara called on his people to extend the line further than Ouagadougou without outside help, in the famous “rail battle”. The landscapes change, from green vegetation to arid desert, just like Bikontine, and Burkina too, moving from hope to disillusionment. At each station, they stop for impromptu encounters. It’s the workers that interest Bikontine and Lucie, who directs without ever appearing on the screen.
How do you keep hope alive when everything is drying up? Bikontine plays at being a tightrope walker on the rails above the void… There is no poetry without risk-taking; there is no creation without courage. He is a wandering soul, open and uncertain, with strong words but no speeches or speechifying, in harmony with the melancholy guitar of Rodolphe Burger, but also in his fits of rage like in Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche’s Bled Number One. During his initiation ordeal, a lonesome cowboy braving vertigo, he – along with an entire society – still hesitates between elsewhere and Sankara’s grounding.

Olivier Barlet
Film critic and editor for Africultures


Lucie Viver

Lucie Viver

After studying history and philosophy, Lucie Viver worked as an assistant director on movies by directors such as Otar Iosseliani, Mati Diop and Rabah Ameur-Zaïmèche. In 2013, she got a place on the Femis’ Atelier Scénario (scriptwriting workshop). Since then, she has developed several projects, both documentary and drama. “Sankara is Not Dead” is her first film.