‘This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection’, starring the late South African screen legend Mary Twala, starts its Oscar-qualifying run on 27 November at Ster Kinekor Tygervalley in Cape Town and at Ster Kinekor Sandton in Johannesburg.
The film will screen until 4 December, in line with the rules for qualifying films for the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards, which require films to screen for seven days to qualify for 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 of lauded production company URUCU. “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.”
The first film from Lesotho, made by a Mosotho filmmaker, to screen internationally, ‘This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection’, directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, was viewed by critics as one of the best films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, held in January.
The visually striking drama, set in the mountains of Lesotho, opens with an elderly widow named Mantoa (Mary 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. Allan Hunter of Screen International said, “’It 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.”
On Twitter, Los Angeles film critic Robert Koehler wrote: “Add Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s name to the ranks of great young filmmakers with his first narrative feature ‘This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection’, a work of extraordinary poetics and emotion, an unforgettable giant from Lesotho.”
“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.”
For director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, the film is deeply personal. “When I was a child, my family was evicted from our home,” he says. “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 film and television icon Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makhetha (‘Tsotsi’, ‘Fanie Fourie’s Lobola’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’, ‘Four Corners, ‘Scandal’, ‘Soul City’, ‘Yizo Yizo’, ‘Isidingo’), Makhaola Ndebele (‘Machine Gun Preacher’, ‘Money Monster’, ‘Nomzamo’) and Tseko Monaheng (‘Naka la Moitheri’, ‘Five Fingers for Marseilles’).