DIRECTOR: SOLVEIG NORDLUND
COUNTRY: MOZAMBIQUE 1998
CINEMATOGRAPHY: LISA HAGSTRAND
MUSIC: JOHAN ZACHRISSON
CAST: Adelinho Branquito, Ajoo Manja, Sergio Titos (Nelio)
SUPER FEATURES: The children are very good. Excellent story, well told.
(Seen at the 22nd Portland International Film Festival, in Portland, Oregon)
Sadly enough, and lost in a world with so many entertainment pictures, a film like this will rarely get a chance to shine and do its thing. It will
also not get a chance at some financing, which this director certainly deserves for her work, if this film is any indication. But it takes brave
Film Festivals, like this one here in Portland, to show these films and not worry about what they really mean. It's the film that matters, not whether you had some petite fun for a couple of hours and walked away with romantic notions, or some inebriated feeling. Films like this are so much more important, but as Doris Lessing once stated, " ... in a democratic country, few will care, since everyone has an opinion, ... nothing to fight for, nothing to agree on, no needs to do anything important, ...".
COMEDIA INFANTIL, is a beautiful exercise of the type that we do not like to see in the west, probably because the true spirit only is alive when it is needed at its most, be it in Bosnia, or in this case Mozambique, or some other place that we have heard has a civil war going on. It is the spirit of the young one that survives, and MUST, though we may not want to accept that idea, lest we feel that we are diminishing our own value in front of our peers. But a titanic spectacle seems to be more important, than real life.
Although the film appears to script the young ones, that do not appear to be totally comfortable with the language Portuguese, still it has enough punch to kick and deliver. It's much too difficult not to like Nelio, whose story the film is centered on, and it only makes this reviewer wonder, how many other stories are there like that out there, that deserve to be filmed.
Nelio's village and family have been decimated by the Civil War in Mozambique, for reasons that are not clear in this film at all, which is rather nice really. It doesn't matter whose war it is, it only matters that it kills and destroys what it should have respect for. But these wars do not
know what people mean, or are. Nelio manages to escape, and as soon as he is alone, his vision allows him to see things, that tend to guide him. An appearance, of a healer that disappears and only leaves a lizard behind, is his signal, and he works with this as much as he can. In town, he becomes better known, because he has an ability to help a few heal, even if it might be the power of suggestion, or in his case, a true need for a "family", or some "love" which the war has taken away. All I can think at this moment in the film is, .. so this is what the colonial powers left behind ...
Nelio, as the film starts, has been shot, and it is the baker in a theater, who has been trying to save him. But the medicine that he has acquired is coming to an end, and Nelio has not finished his story. Nelio's fame also brings him the man whom he has hurt, and we won't spoil the film for you. The film is then run in flashbacks, as Nelio tells his story to the baker.
If there is a sad thing about this film, is that Solveig Nordlund, must have been running on empty shooting this film. There are moments when things appear unfinished, and one gets the feeling that either the film stock changed, or there was not enough of anything to pay anyone to get the results, even though the film has a feel that is not unlike ensemble acting for the most part. Various external scenes have different qualities of film, even though they are in the same place and time. But if anything, this directors' ability in cutting and mounting a story is so good, that she can manage to piece together a truly wonderful film that delivers where many popular faire films could never even try. The shooting style is intimate, but not intrusive. The angles are natural, and not Hollywood. The characters are "real" not acting induced.
But it is nice to see that a film maker is not afraid to make the statements that Solveig Nordlund does in this film, and still go out and be able to make another film. Her incredibly large history in film, should be an indication that there are many like her out there that deserve to have a
camera on their hands and a chance at a large budget. One wonders, why the Swedish industry has not given this woman much more favor ... or perhaps Bergman is the only type of film that we will ever see out of Sweden. Well done, Solveig, well done.
4.5 of 5 GIBLOONS
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