Having your film selected to open a major international film festival is a huge achievement.
And even in the time of Covid-19 where the cinema experience might not be like it used to and where large festivals like the Durban International Film Festival have had to adapt to a virtual festival, one film director could not be happier.
Lemohang Mosese, the brains behind this year’s opening film, “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection”, said that he is honoured to have his film open the festival.
“This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” is a co-production between South Africa, Lesotho and Italy that features predominantly South African actors.
Amongst the pythonic mountains of land-locked Lesotho, an 80-year-old widow winds up her earthly affairs, makes arrangements for her burial and prepares to die.
But when her village is threatened with forced resettlement due to the construction of a reservoir, she finds a new will to live and ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community.
In the final dramatic moments of her life, Mantoa’s legend is forged and made eternal.
The story is a close one to Mosese, who was also evicted from his home when he was young.
“When I was a child, we were evicted from our home. Different houses, different schools, different playmates followed. I felt as though something had been taken away from me. I would often go back to my childhood home and steal the toys that belonged to the new kids who lived there. My heart never left that place”, he said.
“This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” is the first narrative feature film ever made by a Mosotho director.
The film was shot on location in the remote mountains of Lesotho, where running water and electricity are a scarcity.
Equipment, vehicles, crew and other resources were brought into the country from South Africa.
The tiny crew of just fifteen people endured extreme weather conditions while shooting in areas with no road access.
Equipment and cast were often transported on horseback and on mules.
Apart from the leads, the cast is made up almost entirely of actual residents from the village where photography took place.
“The weather was one of the biggest challenges for us. It is so extreme in Lesotho, it would be sunny one day and raining the next day so it also became an issue of continuity for us and we had to make it work.
“Another challenge was the script, I can be very specific about my lines and Mary Twala spoke South African Sotho which really is different from Sotho spoken in Lesotho. It’s not as poetic”, he said.
The award-winning director said that he did not want viewers to watch the film with any expectations.
“The film is embedded with a lot of ideas so I don’t want to say that people should walk away from it with a certain theme or message.
“I feel like if you take just one idea you will rob yourself of a stream of other ideas so watch it with an open mind”.