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Directed by Ekwa Msangi
INSPIRED by the experiences of her own aunt and uncle, Ekwa Msangi´s debut feature is a striking and moving study of immigrants in the US and the sacrifices they make to ensure a better life for their family — and the fallout when their old and new lives collide.
The film follows Angolan immigrant Walter (Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine) as he is reunited with his wife Esther (Zainab Jah) and daughter Sylvia (impressive newcomer Jayme Lawson) at a US airport after being apart for 17 years.
But as he shares a one-bedroom New York apartment with them, the realisation soon dawns on him that they are all complete strangers.
Esther has become fervently religious and dogmatic. She is determined that her quiet daughter Sylvia becomes a doctor, regardless of her hopes and aspirations, while her offspring, who shares her father's passion for dancing, yearns to be a dancer.
“I will not lose my daughter to this country,” Esther tells Walter when she discovers that Sylvia has been secretly attending dance classes at school against her wishes.
Rather than using a linear structure, Msangi shows the drama from each of her protagonist's point of view — the same events unfold but from a different perspective. Each character shares their frustrations and apprehensions as they try to reconnect and work to becoming a family again and, in the process, uncover unsavoury truths.
You can’t help but empathise with their individual struggles in what's an empathetic and compelling three-hander, with exquisite performances from all the three leads, and it provides an alternative and thought-provoking view of the immigrant experience in a gentle yet poignant drama.
And it showcases Msangi's outstanding skills as a film-maker — she is certainly one to watch in the future.
Available on video on demand.
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