Binta and the Great Idea is a half hour short film from Senegal, made in collaboration with UNICEF, with any money raised by it going to UNICEF. It is as wholesome, well-intended, and politically correct as that implies.
On the other hand, in some respects it’s better than one might expect from such a film. It’s very professional in look, it’s clever, and it’s actually quite funny in parts. (My favorite such part being when the one character is raving about the superiority of Europeans and European ways, and he waves around his Swiss watch as one piece of evidence. “Every day, noon sharp, the alarm goes off,” he marvels, “Every day!” After a pause, his companion says “What happens at noon?” “The alarm goes off! Every day!”)
It’s mostly handled in a light, fun style, but really the subject matter of this film is serious stuff, and there are moments when the gravity of what they’re talking about hits home.
Binta is a cute little girl growing up in a village in Senegal. Part of the film is about her class at the local school. They are putting together a play about the importance of girls going to school, in part to send a message to a village girl named Soda’s father, who has forbidden her to attend school.
In a parallel storyline, Binta’s father, after being harangued about the superiority of European culture, and how they have a lot more material stuff, and are able to be independent enough not to rely on each other, and have the biggest guns to protect all their stuff, gets a “great idea.” He has Binta write up his suggestion for him in a letter, which he takes to various government officials, working his way up the hierarchy looking for someone who will listen to him. The substance of the “great idea” is not revealed until the end of the film.
Both storylines have positive endings, and everyone lives happily ever after.
It’s a nice little film, well done, and with messages it’s hard not to embrace.