Last updated
VHS cover
Directed by Idrissa Ouédraogo
Written byIdrissa Ouédraogo
Elsa Monseigny
Produced byIdrissa Ouédraogo
Beatrice Korc
Silvia Voser
Starring Rasmane Ouedraogo
Ina Cisse
Roukietou Barry
Assane Ouedraogo
Cinematography Pierre-Laurent Chénieux
Jean Monsigny
Edited by Luc Barnier
Michael Klochendler
Music by Abdullah Ibrahim
David Williams
Billy Higgins
Distributed by Les Films De L'Avenir (Burkina Faso)
New Yorker Films (United States)
Waka Films (Switzerland)
Rhea Films (France)
Release dates
September 8, 1990 (premiere at Toronto Festival of Festivals)
December 5, 1990 (France)
Running time
81 minutes
CountriesBurkina Faso
United Kingdom
Language Mossi (Mooré)

Tilaï ("The Law") [1] is a 1990 award-winning Burkinabé drama film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Idrissa Ouédraogo. It premiered at the 1990 Toronto Festival of Festivals.



Saga returns to his village after a long absence, and finds that his father has married Nogma, his fiancee, during his leave. [2] Nogma has become his second wife, and by law, Saga's mother. Saga runs away and builds a straw hut near the village.

Still in love, Saga and Nogma begin an affair, with Nogma telling her parents she is going to visit her aunt, then running to Saga's hut. After the affair is discovered, Saga's father decrees that he must die for dishonoring the family. Nogma's father hangs himself from a tree, and Nogma is disowned by her mother at her father's funeral. Saga's brother Kougri is selected to execute Saga. He pretends to kill Saga so as to restore the family's honor. [3]

Saga and Nogma then run away to another village, and the family falls apart. As Saga and Nogma begin to build a life, Nogma tells Saga that she is pregnant. Meanwhile, Kougri comes to regret his failure to kill Saga. After Saga's birth mother dies, Saga returns to the village, exposing Kougri's failure to carry out his father's orders. Kougri's father tells him he is banished. Kougri then picks up Saga's rifle and shoots him for having brought ruin to the family and his own life. He then walks off into exile and probable death.



Tilaï won the Jury Grand Prize at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival [4] and the Grand Prize at the 1991 Panafrican Film and Television Festival.


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  1. Law of the Jungle, Bert Cardullo, The Hudson Review, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter, 1992), pp. 639-647 (9 pages) [Citation: "Tilai" means "the law" or "the code of honor" in the local Moorish language...]
  2. Cinema: Tilai (1990), Gianfranco Della Valle, 11 agosto 2010 (in Italian)
  3. Tilaï ("Résumé"), Cinema-francais (in French), Access date: 09 May 2022
  4. "Festival de Cannes: Tilaï". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-04.