Ukerewe Island, in Tanzania is home to a large community of people who live with albinism. While many albinos are killed at birth or rejected by their families, those who survive risk being...
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Ukerewe Island, in Tanzania is home to a large community of people who live with albinism. While many albinos are killed at birth or rejected by their families, those who survive risk being murdered for their body parts. Told over the course of five years, In the Shadow Of The Sun tells the story of two members of the Tanzanian Albino Society. We follow Vedastus, a teenage boy as he struggles to find a place in the world, and Josephat, a strong-willed advocate for people with albinism, who fights to unite his country and dreams of scaling the heights of Kilimanjaro. As the brutal wave of murders escalate Vedastus flees the island in search of safety whilst Josephat stands and faces the killings head on.Written by
An important look at a largely ignored minority by the media
Albinos in Tanzania have a rough life. Hunted by witchdoctors and people who believe in them, they are forced to live separated from most of society in order to survive. They are killed because their body parts are believed to bring wealth to those who get hold of them. Albinos are also forced to literally stay in the shadow (hence the movie title) because they do not have the protective layer (melanin) on their skin that prevents them from getting cancer. Lack of melanin also reduces their eyesight.
The documentary focuses on two albinos, an adult who travels around Tanzania basically telling people not to kill them, and a young guy who struggles to find a school that will accept him. The director does not intervene with narration and let these people tell their stories themselves and these are rough. Following these albinos around is compelling and the strongest part of the documentary, we get emotionally attached to the people. I wish that the witchdoctors "arguments" and the historical background was explored a bit deeper however. As it is the slice of the problem it focuses on is perhaps a little too small to lift this documentary to a memorable one years from now. A less conservative style would have also helped as I felt that the soundtrack choice was a little grating. To conclude it's undoubtedly an important story to tell but overall I wish it was more ambitious with a bigger lens.
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