Si Gueriki, The Queen Mother / La Reine-Mère

Director: Idrissou Mora Kpai
Countries: Benin / France / Germany
Year: 2003
Running Time: 62 min.
Language: French and Bariba


Idrissou Mora Kpai is a member of the Wassangari tribe. After an absence of ten years, he returns to his roots in the north of Benin after the death of his father. Once the Wassangari were fierce warriors, whose lives were dictated by rigid traditions. They don’t fight any more, but they have retained their strictly patriarchal system. Mora Kpai sees his sisters and nieces suffering under the oppression of the male members of the tribe. He is amazed to see that his mother is liberated. When he was a child, she was a stranger to him, one of the many wives of his father, now she has been granted the title Si Gueriki. She is the queen mother, the female equivalent of a king. Si Gueriki, La Reine Mère is an intimate and personal film. Idrissou Mora Kpai: ‘With the death of my father, part of my childhood, my security, my faith and dreams died too.’ Mora Kpai was confronted by an age-old culture while he also had a really new encounter with his mother. The conversations with all the women are lively, humorous and very elucidating. Despite their difficult position, the ladies are very well aware of what there is to be bought in the world. Mora Kpai filmed their world with respect and love, without too much attractive folklore.

About the Director

Idrissou Mora Kpai

idrissouBiography: Born in Benin in 1967, Idrissou Mora Kpai studied in Germany at the University of Film and TV at Potsdam-Babelsberg where he graduated with an MFA in film directing. Since then, Idrissou has founded the production company MKJ Films in Paris and produced and directed several documentaries, including The Queen Mother (Si-Gueriki – 2002), Arlit, deuxième Paris (2005) and Indochina, Traces of a Mother (2011), all of which have been presented at international festivals and garnered numerous accolades and prizes. His other accomplishments include being an artist in residence at Cornell University, USA, and being a visiting assistant professor at Duke University, USA where he taught at the Arts of the Moving Image department and African & African American Studies department.


Films Shown in AFF, Inc. Programs:
The Queen Mother [Si-Gueriki] (2004).

VIDEO Model (1994);
Ausländer (1994);
Transient (1996);
Fake Soldier (1999);
The Queen Mother [Si-Gueriki] (2002);
Arlit, deuxième Paris (2005);
Indochina, Traces of a Mother (2011).