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Eugene Gabana - The Petrol Man

About lesson: 

2x 90 min / age 14+ / activities

About film: 

Jeanne Delafosse, Camille Plagnet / 2014 /
France / 59 min / 

Annotation of the lesson: 

The reenactment documentary from the capital city of Burkina Faso follows the life of young Eugène, a mobile phone dealer. Without a voice-over to enable the viewers to put the plot into the political and social context and without a purely subjective account of the protagonists, the film captures an atmosphere imbued with heat, dust and the smell of petrol. The protagonist Eugène shows his everyday activities consisting of securing money for food and rent. The only thing Eugène has is a swift tongue. While the narration is strictly limited to a repetition of certain motives, the sharp perspective implicitly highlights details that tell a lot about the state of the society. It is up to the viewers to reflect on Eugène’s specific relationship to money and the role of the history of West Africa. In its form, the film ranks among the early anthropologic documentaries as it is shot and narrated as a feature film. The film lesson focuses on the devices of feature film that help create the image of Eugène’s life. We will focus on the main methods of reenactment and documentary portrait using particular clips from the film. The film also unobtrusively invites discussion about the themes of inequality, the legacy of colonialism, money and its meaning for man.