Tall as the Baobab Tree

(Grand comme le Baobab)
(Senegal, 2012, 82 mins, HDCAM)
CAST Dior Kâ, Oumoul Kâ, Alpha Dia, Cheikh Dia, Mboural Dia
PRODS Mala Bawer, Jeremy Teicher, Chris Collins
SCR Jeremy Teicher, Alexi Pappas
CAM Chris Collins
ED Sofi Marshall
MUS Jay Wadley
PROD CO CyberSmart Learning Institute
Classification: G - Sexual language


Based on true stories, Jeremy Teicher’s beguiling drama tells of two sisters from an isolated Senegalese village, south of Dakar. Coumba, the elder, has just graduated from school and her brother has fallen from the eponymous tree, breaking his leg. To pay the medical fees, their father proposes to marry off the younger daughter, Debo, who has just begun her schooling. Coumba, unhappy at this, concocts a plan to raise money and save her.

The film depicts traditional culture and how it clashes with the modern values imparted at school. It shows the effects of the patriarchal society on its young (and older) women. Simple in its storyline, script and characterization, the film possesses a compelling authenticity stemming from the involvement of the villagers who helped write the scenario and acted in the film. We are often surprised at the twists the story takes.

Teicher was only 22 when he began working on this project; his youthful commitment and energy are reflected in a style that is both fresh and colourful. As Teicher himself writes: "Our film speaks truthfully to what countless families in the developing world are experiencing today: the passion, frustration, and hope of young people who dream of building their futures through education."

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