Children of the Mountain; Adama; Layla Fourie and more – review
8 September 2017
Even in the home entertainment market, African cinema still gets such short shrift from UK distributors that the announcement of an on-demand service from London’s Film Africa initiative is genuine cause for celebration – even if their selection at the moment, available through the Nollywood-specific Okiki app, is something of a lucky dip for the unacquainted. Dominated by Nigeria and Ghana, the menu mixes impassioned, socially conscious storytelling with clunkier stabs at genre, but it has a couple of winningly accessible entry points.
Glowingly shot but uncushioned by sentimentality, Ghanaian director Priscilla Anany’s Children of the Mountain stirringly tells of a young rural mother’s social ostracism after she gives birth to a deformed child. In a more western vein, Frenchman Simon Rouby’s gorgeous animation Adama is an engrossing first world war survival story. Detailing a young West African boy’s search for his brother across ravaged Europe in earthy, tactile tones, its rich imagery appears blotted on to canvas.
Coincidentally enough, Mubi.com is also doing its bit for African representation this week. Recent additions to their streaming lineup include Layla Fourie, South African director Pia Marais’s subtly nervy moral thriller, never released in the UK, about a female polygraphist tangled in hit-and-run guilt, and Chadian auteur Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s 2002 Abouna, a wry, gently mournful study of paternal abandonment.