Basotho screen blockbuster opens in SA cinemas
MASERU – Multi-award winning film ‘This is not a burial: It’s a resurrection’ produced by a Mosotho filmmaker, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, hits South African big screens across the country next month on May 21.
The film is a haunting tribute to land, community and ancestry, and stars the late South African screen legend, Mary Twala Mhlongo, in a list of big names in theatre and cinema.
This is the first film from Lesotho to be screened at an international festival. It was also Lesotho’s first-ever submission to the Oscars and the Golden Globes. Directed by Mosese, the film was viewed by critics as one of the best at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered in January.
The film has won a string of international awards and gained widespread acclaim around the world, particularly for its star Twala.
It won the Best Interpretation Award for Mary Twala Mhlongo at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Montreal, Canada; Firebird Award for Best Actress, Firebird Award for Best Film and FIPRESCI Prize for Young Talent at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Carmel Competition Winner for Best International Film at the Haifa International Film Festival, Israel; Grand Prize for Best International New Talent at the Taipei Film Festival; as well as a host of other awards at major international festivals.
Reviews have been excellent too, with Vulture.com, the culture and entertainment site from New York magazine, claiming in its headline, “The first masterpiece of 2021 is here.”
“The veteran actress passed away last July and now the anxious, unyielding melancholy of her character hits harder. That we as a planet have ourselves suffered through unimaginable loss adds a further, unexpected resonance. For so many, the question ‘Where would you like to die?’ is no longer abstract or speculative, but rather one of plaintive urgency.
‘This is not A burial: It’s a resurrection’ would be an exceptional film under any circumstances, but it has a special power at this particular moment,” writes Vulture.com.
“The film continues to travel internationally, and has taken home 26 awards to date,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution.
“We are delighted that it has attracted so much positive attention internationally.”
“It’s been an amazing journey to have our film recognised internationally and on the continent,” says producer Cait Pansegrouw of lauded production company URUCU.
“We feel privileged that it is Ma’ Mary’s final feature performance and honoured that her legend will live eternally through her astounding performance in our film. We can’t wait to share it with audiences next month and ask everyone to support us in cinema, despite the pandemic. It’s too special and Mary’s performance is too masterful to miss it on the big screen.”
The visually striking drama, set in the mountains of Lesotho, opens with an elderly widow named ‘Mantoa (Mary Twala), grieving the loss of her son.
Determined to die and be laid to rest with her family, her plans are interrupted when she discovers that the village and its cemetery will be forcibly resettled to make way for a dam reservoir. Refusing to let the dead be desecrated, she finds a new will to live and ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community.
For director, Mosese, the film is deeply personal. “When I was a child, my family was evicted from our home,” he says.
“My grandmother’s village is undergoing forced resettlement right now. My experience of displacement has significantly impacted who I am and how I see the world. URUCU believed in me from the beginning and Cait’s passion was the driving force behind ‘Resurrection’.”
The film also stars film and television icon Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha (‘Tsotsi’, ‘Fanie Fourie’s Lobola’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’, ‘Four Corners’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Soul City’, ‘Yizo Yizo’, ‘Isidingo’), Makhaola Ndebele (‘Machine Gun Preacher’, ‘Money Monster’, ‘Nomzamo’) and Tseko Monaheng (‘Naka la Moitheri’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’).
‘This is not a burial: It’s a resurrection’ is distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution.