By Sharon Calingasan
Director: Sara Blecher
This film by multi-award-winning director Sara Blecher (Otelo Burning, Surfing Soweto) is a playful, hip, modern yet melodramatic take on the story of a Sotho/Nigerian young woman, Ayanda (Fulu Moguvhani), who learns the painful way to confront her past. It’s also a refreshing introduction to modern-day African cinema. The main issue is Ayanda’s quest to keep her father’s garage along with a couple of other things that she holds dear, such as her late father’s car, clothes and belongings. But there are also sub-plots that help build up the character of Ayanda and the rest of the central cast, which includes Ayanda’s love interest David (O.C. Ukeje), who has to sacrifice his slot as law student to help Ayanda at the auto repair shop, and Ayanda’s mother Dorothy (Nthati Moshesh), who stopped dreaming when Ayanda’s father died tragically and had to make ends meet for the family, making her distant and detached from her children.
An interesting angle in this movie is the “film-within-a-film” style that it seeks to evoke throughout its entirety. The notable presence of “The Expressionist” (Minenhle Nqaba Shazi), interviewing and taking pictures of young and old Africans, adds a strangely unique vibe to the film. Nevertheless, the street scenes from the Pan-African district of Yeoville in Johannesburg are captured in their natural state, allowing viewers to appreciate the normalcy of things as the film paints a picture of a modern Africa bustling with activity and a melting pot of various cultures and immigrants from different places. Needless to say, the bits and pieces of stop animation at certain points in this film are a quirky and colorful surprise for viewers.
Fulu Moguvhani shines in her heartwarming role as a young lady who misses her father a lot and who, on some level, never really grew up, remaining “Daddy’s little girl”. She was specially handpicked for the role of Ayanda by the film’s producer Terry Pheto, herself an actress best known for playing the role of Miriam in the Oscar Academy award-winning feature film Tsotsi. Moguvhani’s performance is heartfelt and genuine with two scenes in particular showing her strength as an actress: one sees her rummaging through a closet of her Dad’s things, putting on his old leather coat and lost in thoughtful remembrance of her father; the other is when she confronts her mother and they look back on that fateful night of her dad’s accident in his auto repair shop. In the latter scene, she tearfully admits that she “died” when she learned of his death and that ever since she hasn’t really come to terms yet with the truth. The rest of the cast are commendable enough with their portrayals, especially O.C. Ukeje as David, Ayanda’s love interest and mechanic; Thomas Gumede as Zoum, David’s fellow mechanic at Ayanda’s shop; Nthati Moshesh as Dorothy, Ayanda’s mother and, Kenneth Nkosi as Zama, the family friend who’s bent on selling off the garage as a way to save himself from great debt.
This is a very engaging film that shows a young African lady who fits the description of a role model for today’s young women for her independence, determination and grit in pursuing ways to reclaim her father’s auto repair shop. While there are other issues that are explored in this feature, such as immigration, family relationships, coping with a loss and the ability to let go of things that you hold dear, this is, above all, a film about a young lady, who, in her own genuine way, tries to carve a path for her own life. Along the way, she learns many lessons, including the importance of letting go of guilt, being able to forgive herself, her mother and the people around her who hurt her and, finally, being able to prove to the world that she is an empowered woman who has the ability to make a difference after all.
Watch Ayanda on FilmDoo.com from Friday the 30th September.