Ivana Massetti France, 1998
This is a lyric and reflective portrait of the Ivory Coast artist, poet, and writer Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, whose "discovery" by French art curators this decade brought him fame, but whose own discoveries are the fascinating subject of the film. Most of Bouabré's artworks are miniatures, painted on discarded henna boxes, combining image and text in a way that defies the tag "primitive." For Bouabré's art, inspired by a vision he had in 1948, is compelled by his project of creating an alphabet for his native tongue, Bété; the shapes and signs of this alphabet are found in the artist's close observation of nature. Whether imparting the alphabet to villagers, or interpreting ancient artifacts for a museum curator, Bouabré's teachings, like his art, are filled with the wisdom of intuition, as if something were speaking through him. That something might be the philosophy of liberation to which he has devoted his life.
• Written by Massetti. Photographed by Vincenzo Marano. Music by Lisa Gerrard, Pieter Bourke. With Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Pépin Amani Konan, Babo Junior. (85 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From Artemisia Films)