Editor’s note: This film is no longer available to view online.
Thirty years ago, six young friends lived on the streets of Bujumbura in Burundi. They were mischievous, playful, and had to fend for themselves in a daily struggle for survival.
As children, they made few plans for life, knowing that tomorrow was not guaranteed.
Today, only three of them are still alive – the other three were taken by war and poverty. Now, nearing the age of 40, they reflect on their lives and the challenges they face, speaking of moments of joy and loss.
Documented by Belgian filmmaker Philippe de Pierpont, who met them as children and filmed them at key stages of their lives into adulthood, this film shares their stories of friendship and survival.
By Philippe de Pierpont
When we talk to a child, we cannot help but ask about his dreams: “What would you like to do with your life? Who would you like to become?”
It has been 30 years since I met six kids living on the streets of Bujumbura, Burundi: laughing, crazy, and left to fend for themselves. Since then, I have shot a documentary chronicle with them, filming each pivotal stage of their lives.
What can six-year-old children living on the streets become? Taxi drivers, bricklayers, lawyers, unemployed, bandits, presidents of the republic? Single men, married men, fathers? This film follows their journey, comparing them as children, teenagers and young adults to the men they have now become.
As children, they told me: “If I’m dead tomorrow, why make plans?” Back then, this vision of existence dominated everything else. Do they still share this view today, or did their life experiences lead them elsewhere?
They have already lived beyond 35 years of age; an eternity for those who thought they would be dead well before turning 20. What feelings, thoughts and visions of the world – and of their lives – do they have today? Where do they imagine their place in the world to be?
This film explores the uncertain balance in the way our lives play out. A balance between, on the one hand, forces of destiny and inevitability and, on the other, the wills and talents of individuals. A balance – or imbalance – between the broader sociohistorical context and the unique desire of every human being to live and flourish. Like the two halves of a playing card, divided by the diagonal of life.