Monday, October 11, 2010

Abc Africa

Abbas Kiarostami, 2001, 84m, English/Swahili/Persian

This is a film made at the invitation of the UN as an aid to spread awareness and generate relief for the teeming population of orphans in that country. These are the result of civil wars during the eighties and the massive toll taken by the HIV virus. Brave efforts are being made by an organisation called UWESO ( Ugandan Wommen's Efforts to Save Orphans), which is highlighted through the film.

However as might have expected from this gentle poet of the camera, and also from the title of the film, this is an introductory travelogue which gathers together the sights, sounds ahd culture of this unfamiliar country as it is at the present junction. The film is an anthropological study and we feel the pulse of this segment of humanity through their music and dance

The automobile loving director drives us around the country and as we proceed down the highways we have the glimpses of shanties sprawling amidst the mushrooming modern structures, and the untouched countryside. There is a particularly striking sequence of a tropical storm in the pitch of night as we see the lightning flashing in the indigo sky with a tree swaying violently in the foreground. This billion year old scene is symbolic of a continent more prone to the ravages of primitive nature.

The squalor, poverty and illiteracy is much in evidence and we see directionless children and youth ambling everywhere. Misery and hopelessness is the impression conveyed, even though the victim's themselves are hardly aware of their own plight.

The film closes on a note of euphemistic optimism as one little girl is fortunate enough to be adopted by a European couple. The airliner glides through endless billows of black clouds to a different destiny and a  Cinderella-like ending for at least for one child.

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