Mary Twala in the movie ’This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection.’ Picture: Supplied
Mary Twala in the movie ’This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection.’ Picture: Supplied

'This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection' starring Mary Twala embarks on Oscar-qualifying run

By Entertainment Reporter Time of article published Nov 13, 2020

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Basotho film “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection”, a haunting tribute to land, community and ancestry, will screen for one week in order to qualify for the 93rd Academy Awards.

The film, which stars the late South African theatre and film legend Mary Twala, kicks off its Oscar-qualifying run on Friday, November 27, at Ster Kinekor Tygervalley in Cape Town and Ster Kinekor Sandton in Johannesburg.

The film will screen until Friday, December 4, in line with the rules for qualifying films for the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards, which requires films to screen for seven days to qualify for a nomination by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“Our film will be Lesotho’s first-ever Oscar entry. This is a historic moment,” says producer Cait Pansegrouw.

She added: “It was made under such humble and challenging circumstances, but it continues to amaze us as it takes on a life of its own. I am exceedingly proud and so thankful for everything that it has achieved.”

Directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” is the first film from Lesotho, produced by a Mosotho filmmaker, to screen internationally.

The film was dubbed as one of the “best films” by critics at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which was held in January.

The visually striking drama, set in the mountains of Lesotho, opens with an elderly widow named Mantoa (Twala), grieving the loss of her son.

Determined to die and be laid to rest with her family, her plans are interrupted when she discovers that the village and its cemetery will be forcibly resettled to make way for a dam reservoir.

Refusing to let the dead be desecrated, she finds a new will to live and ignites a collective spirit of defiance within her community.

The film won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Visionary Filmmaking at Sundance.

“It (the film) offers a vivid, beautifully crafted reflection on identity, community and the tension between respecting age-old traditions and accepting the seemingly unstoppable march of progress,” said Allan Hunter of Screen International.

“The film continues to travel internationally, and has taken home twenty-one awards to date,” says Helen Kuun, MD of Indigenous Film Distribution.

“Mary Twala’s performance is astounding and we look forward to sharing the film with South African audiences during this limited qualifying run. It will be theatrically released country-wide in 2021.”

THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT'S A RESURRECTION (TRAILER) // Sundance Film Festival Official Selection 2020 from Urucu Media on Vimeo.

This film was among some of the last projects Twala did before passing away on July, 4, 2020. She was 80 years old.

For Jeremiah Mosese, the film is deeply personal.

He said: “When I was a child, my family was evicted from our home. My grandmother’s village is undergoing forced resettlement right now.

“My experience of displacement has significantly impacted who I am and how I see the world.

“Urucu believed in me from the beginning and Cait’s passion, in particular, was the driving force behind ‘Resurrection’.”

The film also stars Mzansi heavyweights Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha, Makhaola Ndebele and Tseko Monaheng.

“This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” is set to release in South Africa in 2021.

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