starring Mary Twala Mhlongo, Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makheta, Makhaola Ndebele, Tseko Monaheng
written and directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
by Walter Chaw In Lesothan hyphenate Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese's debut film This Is Not a Burial, It's a Resurrection (hereafter Burial/Resurrection), the fate of a village, soon to be drowned as a casualty of a government dam project, weighs heavily on elderly widow Mantoa (Mary Twala Mhlongo). Mantoa's striking visage suggests an octogenarian Beckett photographed by Jane Bown, perhaps, the lines on her face describing a road map of the places she's been. Her sorrows include a lost husband, child, and brother--to a mining accident, illness, and misadventure, respectively. The one thing tethering her to the ground is the village's cemetery, where all her hopes are interred. The film's introduction, a slow crawl through what vibes as a jazz club as an old man (Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha) sits playing his Sotho lesiba (which makes music that sounds a little like a dirty-water trombone) in counterpoint to his slam poetry-like incantatory recitation of the movie's themes, the whole of it working like nothing more than a grand invocation to the muse. Burial/Resurrection is film as epic poem, and it has moments of truly staggering power. Power it only really loses when it cuts too quickly, cleanly, back to the narrative of the film itself. What would it have been like had it leaned harder into being a stream of images?