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ABC Africa (2001)

7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 460 users   Metascore: 73/100
Reviews: 12 user | 30 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

Documentary account of the AIDS crisis in Uganda.

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Title: ABC Africa (2001)

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Storyline

Abbas Kiarostami and his assistant, Seifollah Samadian, travel to Kampala, Uganda at the request of the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development. For ten days, their camera captures and caresses the faces of a thousand children - all orphans - whose parents have died of AIDS. Recording tears and laughter, music and silence, life and death, the film attests to Africa's sunny resilience in the face of so much suffering and disease. Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Documentary

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Release Date:

24 October 2001 (France)  »

Also Known As:

ABC África  »

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Objectifying Poverty
3 February 2002 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Moving awkardly and intrusively through Ugandan villages, in a stated attempt to document the work of an Aids orphanage and the crisis of Aids in Uganda, Kiarostami offers us contrived glimpses of a so called "reality." He fails to tell any particular story of poverty, Aids, NGOs, or orphaned children. Instead, he indulges in voyeurism and paternalism, revealing the great distance between the struggles and daily realities of Ugandan villages and the touristic comforts of Western filmmakers staying at the Kampala hotel.

Originally intended as scoping work for a subsequent project, ABC Africa might have been a more in-depth and thought-provokig piece of work had he used this footage as preliminary work. It can not stand on its own as a piece of in-depth documentation as it does nothing more than provide images intended to shock Western audiences about poverty in Africa. Long, unedited shots of kids playing in front of the camera show the intrusion of Western filmmakers. Rushing to capture "good footage" of a young boy pushing a girl child carrying heavy wood or of the orphanage staff preparing the body of a child who recently died compromises the integrity of his work and reveals the cursory nature of the footage and of his experience in Uganda.

While a certain spirit of village life in Africa is conveyed, it's authenticity is sacrificed by Kiarostami's inability to engage his "actors" as individuals with stories to share. Despite his articulated goal to provide images for people to construct their own meaning and build personal "movies" in their mind, Kirostami's casual style objectifies the experiences that he tries to depict authentically.


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