(Re)Discover Theresa Traoré Dahlberg
This post was originally a description of the film Ouaga Girls screened at the CINEF
Theresa Traoré Dahlberg, who grew up in Sweden and Burkina Faso, has been shaped personally and professionally by her multicultural experiences. Based in Sweden, she is currently involved in a collaboration with the Museum of Ethnography. She discussed with the Black Archives Sweden*, her interest in exploring her family archive through photographs, films, sound collections, memories and oral histories: "A specific work in the archives has inspired me to develop new work centered around my grandmother's recorded oral histories...The black archive allows for deeper perspective than what I have previously been exposed to or had access to.
She had this to say in an interview with me:
I grew up with a mother from Sweden and a father from Burkina Faso. They met when they both received grants to study abroad at Washington State University. When they had children, my three brothers and me, they decided that they wanted us to grow up with both cultures. In Sweden we lived on the island Öland, south of the mainland, and in Burkina we lived in the capital, Ouagadougou. For me, I enjoyed having two homes in different countries, and it helped me to get a greater understanding and perspective of different cultures and values. Since I am so used to moving around, I have noticed that I am always travelling a lot, going from place to place. Working with film allows me to be mobile, and to explore my curiosity in different projects and subjects that I find important.
Boury, the protagonist of Taxi Sister, is a fiesty and assertive woman, Theresa Traoré Dahlberg talks about the relationship that developed between them and the making of the film:
I spent a lot of time with her on the phone before coming to Senegal. I talked to her while she was working, even when she had clients. Sometimes she would have to stop the call in order to collect the fare for the taxi ride. While there I had hours and hours of in depth interviews. I also spent time driving around in the taxi, though not filming, but just to get a sense of her daily routine on the job. The photographer and I were guests at her house a couple of nights during which time we got to know her family and her best friend Fari, who is also a taxi driver.
Her 83 minute film Ouaga Girls made in 2017 is set in the Burkina capital:
Ouaga Girls is a documentary about a group of young women from Ouagadougou who are studying to become car mechanics at a school for women. The class becomes their port of safety, joy and sisterhood, as they go through the life-changing transition into adulthood, in a country boiling with political changes.
The Life of an Ambassador's Wife
While making the film Ouaga Girls Theresa Traoré Dahlberg was introduced to the wife of the French ambassador to Burkina Faso, who also sang opera, she asked her to film her during her rehearsals. The film shoot developed into an intimate portrait of her daily activities at the ambassador residence.
Theresa Traore Dahlberg: "When I was filming my first feature film, “Ouaga Girls,” in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2015, I was introduced to the French ambassador’s wife. She asked me to film her singing opera, but as I walked into the opulent gardens of the ambassador’s residence, I asked if I could follow her in her daily life instead.
As the child of a Burkinabé father and Swedish mother, I spent my childhood traveling between Burkina Faso and Sweden. During the making of this film, I had a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings. Walking down the aisle of perfectly manicured trees at the residency, I was reminded of the stories my grandmother used to tell me about when Burkina Faso was a French colony." (New York Times)
Report by Beti Ellerson
*Black Archives Sweden: https://www.blackarchivessweden.com/theresa-traore-dahlberg/