In the dusty small town of Elandsdoorn, a South African township not far from Johannesburg, life is simple and serene. A prevailing sense of deep pride tightly bonds together the entire community - but beware to those who step out of line ... 12-year-old Chanda is a hardworking promising young student with a bright future, but her life changes dramatically when her baby sister unexpectedly dies. Heartbroken, Chanda's mother, Lillian, in turn becomes severely ill. Her stepfather drowns himself in alcohol, leaving the young girl to take care of her two smaller siblings. Meanwhile, the formerly friendly neighbors become increasingly distant and gossip spreads. "Auntie" Tafa does what she can to help by getting Lillian to leave town, but not even "Auntie" is immune to the cloud of fear filtering across Elandsdoorn. Suspecting that the community's irrational ostracism has to do with her mother's illness and the death of her baby sister, Chanda demands answers but is met with stubborn ... Written by
Initially Slack But Ultimately Deeply Moving Drama
It takes quite a while for the central conflict (and hence themes) to emerge in this story of a 12-year old African girl and her family. For a while, it seems to be one of those movies in which the protagonist is challenged by a series of apparently unrelated hardships -- misery for its own sake -- and hence it touches the viewer less than it might. Once the story takes shape, though, it becomes very powerful. It is absolutely worth experiencing the seemingly episodic first half to get to the film's payoff. Recommended, and highly so if you are interested (as I am) in the struggle between the rational, modern worldview and the religious. (7/10 for me, means B+, highly recommended).
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