North American Premiere
Simon Panay’s film takes us into the world of Opio, a boy of 13 who works at a gold mine in Burkina Faso. As you might imagine, it’s a harsh existence, with an oppressively narrow range of options. Even the most basic education costs money, and Opio’s family has precious little of that. The boy decides on a training program for welders, but to earn enough for tuition, he must take his current occupation one step further, moving from peripheral tasks to the dangerous work of going down into the pits.
Shot in eye-catching widescreen, If You Are a Man practically makes a character of its environment: the parched, rugged terrain and the glaring sun almost set the terms of Opio’s struggle. His lot is hard, dangerous work in pursuit of things that are practically taken for granted by most Westerners—an injustice that lends Panay’s film a heightened suspense and a special poignancy.
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Xavier Castano, Christie Molia
Thomas Marchand, Simon Panay
Simon Panay has directed four short documentaries in West Africa. He received the ARP Young Talent of the Year Award in 2014 and the Documentary Grant from the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation in 2018. His short film Nobody Dies Here (2016), shot in an illegal mine in Benin, has been screened in 71 countries and has won 133 festival awards.