Film Review: Ilizwi

♦  ♦  ♦  / – –

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The story of paranormal activity with a twist of traditional African beliefs has been told before. In any case it would seem quite weird but not impossible for a protagonist to be inserted in a story set in South Africa wherein they are mysteriously blessed with telepathic prowess without attributing their power to some ancestral lineage. Imagine if there was such a film? Contextually speaking the creatives involved will have to push the imaginary envelope where no one has gone before. That place does exist. It is outside of the box


Ilizwe takes its cue from the ancestral lineage theme and to the perceptive film viewer it hints succinctly on the world outside of the box. Perhaps one day in hindsight we would come to appreciate this work as one of the steps towards the world outside of the box. Siboniso’s (Sihle Dlamini) father has just died and together with his mom, Nomzamo (Silindile Nodangala) are forced to move from the rural home he has known from childhood to live with his uncle and aunt in the township. Once there life gets interesting for Siboniso. Mandla, his uncle, played by Hlanhla John Lata, is warm and welcoming gives the boy his grandmother’s wrist amulet as he moves him into the late traditional healer’s room. Later on the past is dug out emotionally as the uncle converses with Siboniso’s mom and as the saying goes the ear has no lid as his wife Agnes (Cebile Mlaba) overhears everything including the fact that the boy is Mandla’s son. She storms in and sheds away her tolerance for the new tenants. They must leave her house!• 

»the ear has no lid«

Mandla tries his best to apologise to Agnes and to convince her to see reason as far as where his sister in law and son would go should they show them the door. For a while there is a reconciliation albeit a very delicate one as anger mounts on the part of Agnes considering the fact that she has not been able to bear children for Mandla. Dark Muti will find its way to this house in the long run of this modest narrative. It is the wrist amulet that would reveal to the boy the hidden world beyond the world he finds himself in. No secrets will escape his consciousness so long as the beads are within a fingering stroke. Tragically the boy’s mom will pass away leavening him to wrestle with Dark Muti fuelled aunt


At the surface structure of viewing this film I am sure by the time Mandla turns around when his son calls him from under the bed just when Agness tries to kill him you would have noticed just how the names of the characters carrying this narrative are indicative of their roles within the grander aspect of the narrative, maina a baanelwa a ile boreelong. The nemesis’ name of the story though is misleading as she is the utmost opposite of her name and would ring an alarm during a deep structure analysis, she is evil personified


Here is a proposal that hints what we could see in the future in terms of the bourgeoning South African film industry once the interns are striking it out on their own and brave enough to venture outside of the box. Ilizwe initiates a new paranormal tale with a slight thrill build up and delivers to us a gentle 3deF’Points out of Five: ♦ ♦ ♦ /


13 December

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2015


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