Waiting For Happiness feels to me like the kind of film African directors have to make to get shown in arthouse cinemas in Europe. Whilst the French funding is supposed no strings attached, the truth of the matter is that if the film is not seen in certain places then it would be said that the funding was a waste. Since such little money goes to African film in the first place, this places a ridiculously high burden upon the film-makers. So high that the demands of politics and narrative goes out of the window.
This may be harsh, but I have seen a fair number of African films now which play the festival and arthouse circuit. I know this is not all there is being made, but I know that it is nevertheless a significant proportion. What does the European arthouse audience want to see then? Stunning cinematography? Small, slight tales about life on the edge of a desert? Kids, always with the kids, often being more wise than their age belies.
On a bad day I would have hated Waiting For Happiness, but truth be told it is a beguling little film and the scattershot method means it has at least few moments of greatness (the electricity in the desert part is striking). But it is a singularly unambitious film, you cannot blame it for that. The way African film is funded, and seen has bred films like this. Africa has plenty of films in it, and unfortunately you would think an inconsequential mood piece like Waiting For Happiness would be a lot lower down on the list.