The Crocodiles of the Wandaogo Family 
Die Krokodile der Familie Wandaogo

Deutscher Kurzfilmpreis | Sonderformate – Nominiert für den deutschen Kamerapreis – Kategorie: Schnitt – 1. Preis langer Dokumentarfilm Borderlands – International Film Festival Bolzano 2003 – FBW Prädikat wertvoll

Hindou + Issa in Tenkodogo

The Wandaogos were once a royal family in Burkina Faso and their crocodiles were seen as the family’s protectors and bringers of good fortune. Life changed, but the crocodiles remained. For the “elders” at crocodile lake, the sacrificial ceremonies are a part of life and appreciation of the crocodiles. “The crocodiles are our great, great grandfathers…” My husband, Salif, as the eldest son, stri-ves to honor the responsibilities. As his memories of the family legend differ, the more persi-stently he tries to do justice to the traditions.

Each Winter, we travel to the family court with our daughter, Kaddi, and for a few weeks we are part of the big family. The former royal family follows life-determining responsibilities. Daily sur-vival means to succeed again each day. For our Cologne small family ideal, the meeting of strangers and those intimate to us means a new challenge on each journey. Complications and obstacles are pre-programmed. Not only does my husband, torn back and forth between German and Burkina families, change comple-tely. Our daughter becomes more complicated, family life functions on another frequency. In the vortex of oneself, pulled back and forth.

Africa is no fun for Europeans. Exaggerated actions strain tolerance. Every time I ask myself: Why am I here again? Why can’t my husband live with his “little” family in Africa? Why do we think against each other so much? Why, why why? One thing is sure, when you step on West African soil, everything comes differently than expected. The European lifestyle appears eve-rywhere. The youngest stand in between, observe and take the “prettiest” of everything for themselves. Nobody cares about it as long as it halfway works.

If you wish get close to a person, you also get closer to yourself.” Just like this, a person in front of a camera can only show so much of himself as you allow with your own presence. In our European world, seeing means recognition and understanding automatically passes for knowledge. In Africa, this is a mistake. When a European speaks about what he sees, an African speaks about that which he does not see. With each journey to Burkina Faso, I get closer to the every day life of the royal children and the legend of the crocodiles. Meaning of life and spirit without a safety net. “A per-son alone cannot see far”, says the village.

Producer Herbert Schwering – Script | Director Britta Wandaogo – Photography Oliver Schwabe, Britta Wandaogo – Editing Gesa Marten, Britta Wandaogo – Music Rahime Diallo – Production ICON FILM – Co-Production wandaogo production


Without My Fourth Child
Ohne Mein Viertes Kind
Nominated PRIX EUROPA 2010
Hermine Albers Media Award


The story of Andy, 24 years old, toothless and meagre, who tries with all his might to care for his three remaining children after the fourth child ended up with foster parents. The filmmaker follows Andy closely, shows his attempts to bring order into the chaos of his family, his desperate optimism, his thoughts and feelings, his only partially successful action to keep the authorities at bay and prove that he is a good father who can care for his children.

The Film “without my fourth child” makes it perceptible, how close the will to exist, braveness and helplessness lies together. Distanced from social stereotypes, we witness the realisation of how close to the edge of a social abyss you can be in Germany as a family. The film leaves space for Andys thoughts and words, while neither idealizing or stigmatizing him. The films achievement is, that it clears prejudice against family, whose children have been taken away by the youth welfare office. The way this film showed the lives of these families got under our skin. The authenticity makes it impossible for the viewer to take a distance and it points out, that the decisions considering the well being of a child are a complex matter. [excerpt from the laudation of the chairwoman of the jury Ulrike Werthmanns-Reppekus]


Der Film “Ohne mein viertes Kind” macht erfahrbar, wie nah Existenzwille, Mut und Hilflosigkeit beieinander liegen können”. Fernab von sozialen Klischees wird aus dem Blickwinkel der Familie erzählt, wie eng gesteckt die Fallhöhe sein kann – mitten in Deutschland am Rande zu stehen. Der Film lässt Andy in seiner Welt mit seinen Worten Raum, dabei wird er weder idealisiert noch stigmatisiert. Die Leistung des Film ist, dass er mit Vorurteilen gegenüber Familie aufräumt, die vom Kindesentzug betroffen sind. Er zeigt sehr eindrucksvoll die Lebenswelten der betroffenen Familien und ging uns als Jury sehr unter die Haut. Der Film schafft eine Authentizität, die es nicht ermöglicht sich zu distanzieren, und er verdeutlicht, dass die Entscheidungen zum Wohle des Kindes keine leichte Aufgabe sind, sowohl aus der Sicht des Jugendamtes als auch der Eltern. ‘Auszug Laudatio Juryvorsitz Ulrike Werthmanns-Reppekus’

Thursday, 10 October, 7.30 pm:
“The Crocodiles of the family Wandaogo” Films by Britta Wandaogo
Kunstverein Tiergarten | Galerie Nord, Turmstraße 75, 10551 Berlin