Latest International News

Critical / “If you’re a man” (2022) by Simon Panay


If You’re a Man was released in theaters on March 1, 2023. Simon Panay’s documentary follows the daily life of Opio, a young man from Burkina Faso who works in the gold mines. Criticism and opinion of Bulles de Culture.


Perkoa gold mine, Burkina Faso. Opio is 13 years old and works on the surface, earning only a bag of stones a month for salary. His father wants him to go into vocational training, but he cannot afford the tuition. Opio must therefore collect this money and asks his boss for a promotion: the right to descend into the underground galleries where it is said that men can become rich.

If you a man : child labor in gold mines

Son of winegrowers, Simon Panay learned cinema in Burkina Faso through the documentary filmmaker Souleymane Drabo. The fruit of long years of research on child labor in clandestine gold mines, If you’re a manhis first feature film, follows a short, Here, no one dieswhich already dealt with this subject.

The film follows the journey of 13-year-old Opio, who works in these gold mines, and whose companions are sent to a pit where a fatal landslide could occur at any moment. The child is still too young to go down there. Each month, his boss pays him in pebbles likely to contain the gold that he can then resell to feed his family. But the metal collected is often very insufficient to allow Opio to live. His father, who relies on his child’s income, encourages him to find a better paying job. For this, he tries to enroll her in a welding school, but the tuition fees are too high. So Opio asks his employer to be able to go down into the mine…

If you are a man film Opio works 2.39
© JHR Films

A child trapped in his social condition

The energy of the assembly and the construction of the plans of If you’re a man could almost make one believe in a fiction, so much Simon Panay gives here a perfectly constructed story. We feel, above all, that the filmmaker’s gaze is captivated by the figure of Opio, whose chilling living conditions he depicts, without ever intervening, to better bear witness, more broadly, to a country, even a continent. , still martyred in places.

The children here are deprived of education, and exploited in the mines to bring money back to their families, while the scourge of alcoholism comes to strike individuals who are already fragile and precarious. As such, the images are captured spontaneously (thus, when Opio’s father, negotiating to obtain a nest egg against his animals to pay for school supplies, does not conceal also wanting to put money aside to buy a few bottles), and benefits from the genuine risk-taking of the film crew, who dive with the child into the narrow alleys threatened by the mine’s collapse.

Simon Panay here soberly tells the story of this child trapped in his social condition, the final scene forming, and closing, a loop with the opening: the young Opio is shown in a closed environment, revealing a story without exit .

Our opinion ?

Fascinating, the documentary of Simon Panay follows a young 13-year-old Burkinabè employed in gold mines. The director films meticulously, and with great neutrality, this sad journey, poignant testimony of an Africa in human distress.

Learn more:

  • Release date France: 01/03/2023
  • Distribution France: JHR Films

Leave a comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More