Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s widely applauded feature film, is part of this year’s editon of the International Film Festival Rotterdam.
In a small village in Lesotho, surrounded by the mountains, 80 year old widow Mantoa awaits the return of her son, a migrant labourer working in a South African coal mine and her only surviving relative. It’s Christmas and he doesn’t show up. Messengers bring her the devastating news of her son’s passing, a victim of an accident in the mines. Distraught by the sudden news of his untimely death, Mantoa struggles to find meaning in her existence.
An invisible wall of bewilderment arises and stands between Mantoa and the outside world. God, the village, and reality too, appear further and further away. Consumed by grief, her yearning for death and reuniting with her family steadily grows. She yearns to be laid to rest in the local cemetery with her loved ones.
Mantoa winds up her affairs early and makes arrangements for her own burial. Her plans are punctuated when she learns that the village is to be forcibly resettled due to the construction of a dam reservoir. The land will be flooded and the cemetery desecrated. Mantoa’s resolve is unwavering; igniting a collective spirit of defiance within the community. In the final dramatic moments of her life, Mantoa’s legend is forged and made eternal.
In a statement, film director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese says: “I still know every texture of my grandmother’s house; its walls, its thatched roof, the smell of oak trees after rain. Soon it will be no more. Soon it will be razed and flooded and water will be channeled into the heart of South Africa. Communities are being erased en masse in the name of progress. Forgotten in a soulless march towards futurity. I am not for or against progress. I am more interested in questioning the psychological, spiritual and social elements that come with it. New and old. Birth and death. An ecclesiastical reverence to the earth.” Through Mantoa’s eyes, we see that there is a lot of darkness to face, but ultimately this is a story about the resilience of the human spirit.
Watch the trailer here.