The Sound Barrier

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Thibault Dufour

What motivated you to make this film?

In Africa, as in the rest of the world, students are imagining solutions to meet the needs of local populations. Social businesses are starting to appear in many crucial domains, cultivating the idea that the interests of all and economic profitability can coexist. These solutions often bring innovative solutions, sometimes more effective than traditional philanthropic approaches or corporate market approaches. Shedding some light on some promising initiatives in western Africa seemed like a useful task. From a narrative perspective, the story of a group of African students talking about the issue of Malaria, and about to confront their business idea with students from the world’s top schools, was in itself a very motivating factor.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

Filming this story was a real pleasure. Since we were following a world-wide competition, with many eliminatory steps, we did not know how far the students would make it. Would they be eliminated in the francophone finals in Paris, would they be eliminated in the semi-finals in Berkley, would they make it to the finals? Did they have what it takes to win the finals?

This was a very emotionally charged experience and very improvised, so not always easy. From a distribution and exhibition stand point, many festivals have been motivated to include the film in their screenings. As far as TV distribution is concerned, we have not succeeded in airing it on French TV networks. Some African networks, feeling that the project could find echoes in local youth, have decided to air the film.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

A dose of optimism and a clearer idea of what needs to lie at the core of social businesses for them to start thriving: strong personal motivation, strong coaching, and a widespread issue to address.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

  • Social entrepreneurship: how business approaches can bring strong social responses to social issues.
  • The African youth of today is not to be forgotten in the drive to searching solutions to global issues. Local innovative ideas often turn out to be extremely promising.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the video. How have things changed or not changed?

Unfortunately, the finding of these two students, a mosquito repellent soap, is still in development today. Numerous hurdles remain, as it is a pharmaceutical product. Currently, the challenge is finding the way to make the soap effective for a longer period over time (it needs to be effective at least overnight.). This demands heavy testing and lab work, which is running into cost issues…


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

I would say, check out the school 2iE, in Burkina Faso and explore the innovative ideas of all these African students. That is where opportunities to get involved can be showcased.



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