Saturday, December 17, 2011

They exist because I exist

The title of this piece is taken from, a poem entitled Ode to Envy by Pablo Neruda. Day 2 at theAmakula Kampala Cinema Caravan Festival found this viewer in insular mood and as result the three films mentioned hereafter, focus on individual performances that caught the eye. Also considering that today is the anniversary of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian trader, is self immolation that sparked the Arab spring, according to the news media's narrative; the ego is especially prominent at the moment, bear with I.

Ernest Okeyo from Kenya stand up, your short film, Istanbul is a mustard seed. The story revolves around a young man who happens to be a fan of Liverpool FC but also an individual whose choices and actions have hurt his family in more ways than one. Be warned this film has a happy ending and is predictable which is inevitable since a key part of the narrative is based on past events, namely Liverpool FC's memorable triumph in Istanbul, 2005. However, it is still moving and well paced by the writer/director, Ernest Okeyo and I am not just saying that because I am fan of the said football club.

Individual choices are also at the root of Saleh Haroun's offering entitled,A Screaming Man set in present day Chad at a time of insurrection. This film is characterized by  powerful individual performances especially from Youssouf Djaoro the lead character who decides to give up his only son to the war effort against the rebels. Prior to this the son takes the father's job as a pool cleaner at a luxury hotel and as a consequence of these events the happy family is broken.

I want them to know
I cannot wire my mouth shut
so they can write poetry in my place
 Pablo Neruda, Ode to Envy

The tension between the individual and the family are also played out in Anusha Rizvi's, Peepli. A tragic comedy set in present day India about a farmer whose land has been repossessed by the bank over his failure to repay a loan of 100,000 rupees. Desperate,he hears of a government scheme that offers 100,000 rupees to the family of any farmer who commits suicide because of indebtedness and so he decides to commit suicide within earshot of a journalist who runs with the story, setting off a series of events that reveal the poverty and despair of India's farmers as well as the depravity of the political system aided and abated by the news media motivated, as both these institutions are, by self interest. This is Bollywood without the bright colours and fanfare, like you have never seen. Probably the best I have seen in a minute.
But don't take my word for it, come on down to the UNCC and see for yourself.

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