Sarah Bouyain, mixed-race of French-Burkinabé parentage was born in Reims, Marne. After acquiring a university degree in mathematics she entered the l’école Nationale supérieure Louis Lumière (“École de Vaugirard”). Two years later, she worked as assistant camerawoman on different films as well as advertisements and also worked as image intern for the film Léon by Luc Besson.
Her documentary Les Enfants du Blanc was released in 2000 and the book of short stories Metisse façon, published in 2003. She has also written articles mainly focusing on the theme of mixed-race and exile for Africultures, Presence Africaine and Codesria.
Excerpt from a filmed interview with Sarah Bouyain at Venice Days during the International Film Festival of Venice 2010. Translation from French by Beti Ellerson.
I am mixed-race, my father was Burkinabé and my mother French, and in fact, I am the granddaughter of a mixed-race woman.... Therefore, I have a dual mixed-race heritage which is where my affinity for Burkina derives. My father lived in France with the intentions of returning to Burkina. I grew up hearing him talk about Burkina all the time with the eventuality of returning there in the future. This has influenced me very much and that is the social location of my work. However, I have a difficult time with this specificity of Burkina. I would prefer to say Africa, though Africa has a certain mythical quality, and everyone does not perceive this myth in the same way, some think of tigers and giraffes and others something else. There is something mysterious about this world of Africa that can be somewhat frightening at times. People project a certain fantasy that is not very positive. Perhaps I reflect a certain fantasy that comes from my father's eternal fantasy of returning. The country interests me. I am also interested in how one lives between two places. And I imagine my next film will also deal with this subject.
Synopsis of the film, Notre Étrangère
After the death of her father, Amy, a young mixed-raced woman leaves Paris to go to Bobo in Burkina Faso to find her mother from whom she was separated at eight years old. But only her aunt lives in her childhood home. Amy goes from one family foyer to another, at the same time comforting it is also stifling. Moreover, she encounters a city in which she no longer has a point of reference.
For several years now, her mother Mariam is but an illusive shadow living on the margins of society. She recently meets Ester, the manager of a company in Paris where she is the office cleaner. Ester wants to learn Dioula, Mariam's maternal language. Gradually these two lonely women appreciate each other.
Notre Étrangère (2010) by Sarah Bouyain