This is a remarkable and otherworldly feature film from Lesotho’s tiny landlocked kingdom in southern Africa.
It’s a defiant spirit story: an elderly woman opposing government proposals to flood her village in order to make room for a dam.
It’s a movie about resistance and resilience, but director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is cool, unsentimental, and rational about capitalism and construction’s eventual advances. This film takes on almost mystical qualities, weaving in ideas about migration, collective identity and history. From Beyoncé to the Oscars, Mary Twala, Africa’s Queen of CinemaRead more Some of the actors are amateurs, but Mary Twala, who was featured in Idris Elba’s Nelson Mandela biopic Long Walk to Freedom, plays the central role.
She plays Mantoa, an 80-year-old widow whose son dies in a mining accident in neighboring South Africa – her last remaining relative. (The movie is not about poverty, but in every shot it is present). When she learns of the dam project, Mantoa feels prepared to die and makes plans to be buried in the village cemetery; the villagers are to be forcefully moved to the capital.
Mantoa tries to bring it to a halt.
She’s got nothing left to live for, and that gives her real strength in a way.
She doesn’t care whether she’s insulting the priest, or whether people think she’s a witch, she and her family want to be buried. An austere, uncompromising video, a string of pictures accurately framed as a painting.
With a determined look, without words, Twala is at the middle, always silent.
Mosese has said that to avoid stereotypes, he wrote the character as a man, then changed the name to a female one.
And Twala gives a perfect, intimate yet epic performance. This Is Not a Funeral is Lesotho’s first film to join the Best Foreign Feature Oscar competition.
Unfortunately, Twala didn’t live to see this performance, she died earlier this year – from January 13, This Is Not a Funeral, It’s a Resurrection can be seen in Mubi.