Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
This spirited and humorous tale, based on an oral legend of the Dogon people of northeastern Mali, is the story of a clever young woman who turns the tables on the men folk in her village when she steals a demon's power and uses it to make life easier for her sisters. In hard-working Yamene's village, it is believed that evil spirits haunt the perimeter and that anyone who leaves the town's confines at night will be driven insane. One day, Yamene discovers that her lazy husband has neglected to fetch wood for the evening fire. Irritated, Yamene leaves the village to get the wood herself. She isn't long in the brush before she encounters a tiny band of spirits and their tall, creepy leader. Yamene fights with the creature, steals its mask and returns home. Tired of her husband's sloth and macho posturing, she dons the demon's mask and proclaims in a loud voice that women and men must trade roles. To that end, women give the men their pagnes (the cotton clothes they wrap around themselves like a skirt--the film's literal translation is "the power of the pagne") and set about loafing under shade trees while the men get busy cooking, bringing water and cleaning. The grumbling fellows are too afraid of the "demon" to rebel. Yamene is faced with a tough decision when her daughter brings home a battered woman who warns that terrible things will happen if she doesn't return the mask.
demon, evil, legend [fable], mask [disguise], power, supernatural-forces, trick, village, war, woman