Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into... See full summary »

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Mbwana
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Louis Mahoney ...
Old Mbwana
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Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hotspot as a result. But for Mbwana the reality isn't what he dreamed and when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive. Written by Anonymous

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16 January 2013 (USA)  »

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Impressive effects frame a commentary on the damaging effects of tourism
13 April 2014 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Two young men are getting by in Zanzibar by stealing off the few tourists that come through, although they long for more tourism to bring more money to the town and improve their lives. This opportunity presents itself when, while playing around with a stolen camera, the two men get a picture of a giant jumping fish and soon the city is transformed into a place of light, bustle and tourism.

Jonah is a very clever film and it works well enough so that you don't come out of it thinking "they managed to make a story to support those effects" but rather "the effects worked well in support of that story" – a big difference and one that too many people making effects showcases forget. The plot here sets up a commentary on the short-term benefits of mass tourism when compared to the longer term damage to the area but fundamentally to the thing that drew the crowds in the first place. Usually this is the natural beauty of a place and in this case that is represented by the fish which, while we see the impact on the city, we later see this manifested in a change to the fish and the seabed itself. It is perhaps not the most subtle message but it is engagingly delivered and it ends with a good conclusion – that nature will ultimately go on.

The effects are very impressive but, like I say, the most impressive thing about them is that they are not done in the hunt for a narrative but rather directly in support of one. They are also excellent whether they be the development of the city before our eyes, or the detailed beauty of the fish and the polluted landscape under the sea – everything looks great and flows well. The performances are solid with British actors Kaluuya and Kirby feeling natural and convincing early on, drawing the viewer into the film. The direction throughout is very strong with great shots and pacing – certainly enough to overlook that the opening sequence feels too much like a lift of Slumdog Millionaire.

An impressive short film which engages with its narrative, commentary and visual effects.


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