SIRA – Review by Jennifer Merin

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Burkinabé filmmaker Apolline Traoré’s Sira is a tale of a woman’s revenge. Sira (Nafisatou Cisse), the titular character, is the joyful and beloved daughter of the chief of a Muslim village, and she is about to be wed to her childhood sweetheart, Jean Sidi (Abdramane Barry), the son of a prominent and wealthy Christian farming family. Their inter-religion union is controversial, but both sets of parents approve the wedding, which is thought to be a positive peace-making bond between the disparate ethnic groups. This is a time for joy, but the celebratory mood doesn’t last long.

Sira is travelling with her family across the vast and arid Sahel Desert when their caravan is stopped by a band of fundamentalist terrorists who, without any provocation, gun down her father and other family members. Sira cries out and curses the terrorist leader (Lazare Minoungou) who, as punishment, takes her prisoner, brutally rapes her and leaves her alone in the desert to die. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).