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Saturday, October 3, 2020


Well done to those involved for bringing pertinent films to the DIFF for keeping the festival afloat during trying times. (Review by Verne Rowin Munsamy)

The Durban International Film Festival, the longest of its kind in Africa, once again offered us an array of artistically driven movies through a new virtual medium as governed by new Covid regulations. The festival forged forward amidst the struggles of this new environment, emerging victorious. The shows were accessible online and Burkinabe, directed by Nthato Mokgata and Carla Fonseca, is one that peaked my interest. I was drawn to the vast desolate cinematography and the sadness of the story.

The story is an ailing woman, Merriam, who returns to Burkina Faso to reconnect with her birthplace and find what might be left of her family and mother, who had put her up for adoption to a South African family.

She wants to die in the land of her birth. She confides in her companion that she always felt like an outcast as she was physically undistinguishable to the rest of her adopted family. Her loneliness is well-represented in the movie through images, storyline and long dusty roads. Her hair, that she speaks about, was one distinguishing feature that caused her to stick out and so she only grew it at 20.

Irony is that now, while ill, she has lost her hair. Upon her arrival in Burkina Faso, she meets Moussa, a driver and companion who ventures with her on her journey of self-discovery. He, too, is plagued by his own demons and finds himself simultaneously traveling his own road to self-discovery.

The unique camera angles and the alienation felt by both cast members is eloquently portrayed by these two individuals in dusty, oversized and harsh terrains in the background. The action is slow and dialogue is replaced with natural sounds of the city and rural areas. The haunting close-ups make for interesting viewing and the camera often follows in unusual angles. I relished the unorthodox long silences. The sense of alienation is best displayed through these silences.

This show and others like it are located online for rental and are a must-see for avid viewers who enjoy movies that break conventional appeal. Well done to those involved for bringing pertinent films to the festival for keeping the festival afloat during trying times. - Verne Rowin Munsamy

The Durban International Film Festival is hosted by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Durban.