White Calf (2016)

29 min documentary film
University of the Arts Helsinki 2016

The camera gently observes as family life unfolds in the realms of a rural Beninese yard. Children play and chicken roam around free. Abdoulaye and Fatima are not leading a pastoral lifestyle anymore but still dream of owning a few cows because tending to cattle is the traditional work of their people, the Fulani. The film follows Abdoulaye who goes on ventures to local farmers in search of an affordable calf while at home Fatima takes a break from her chores to breastfeed her baby and starts to talk about her past. Independently from one another the couple recounts their life in front of the camera, their memories start to intertwine and form the backbone of the film. Gradually the adults and the children start to interact with the filmmaker and make comments on her presence in the household. The interaction and trust between observer and observed makes their relationship more equal in an attempt to break loose of the tradition of depicting otherness.

Directed by Emilia Rüf
Cinematography & editing Emilia Rüf
Sound design Miki Brunou

  • Photo © Emilia Rüf