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If You Are a Man film image, director Simon Panay

If You Are a Man

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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.


Supported by

Media Partner

The Tyee logo

Country of Origin

France/Burkina Faso




In Lyélé, Mooré and French with English subtitles

74 min

Book Tickets

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Xavier Castano, Christie Molia


Simon Panay


Simon Panay


Thomas Marchand, Simon Panay

Original Music

Philippe Fivet


Simon Panay headshot, If You Are a Man director

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.