Expired May 21, 2021 3:59 AM
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Absolutely arresting from its first painterly frames, the devastating and hypnotic THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT’S A RESURRECTION has justifiably garnered comparison to the work of Pedro Costa, Andrei Tarkovsky, and Souleymane Cissé. This debut feature from Berlin-based Mosotho filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese marks the introduction of a major filmmaker and the final powerhouse performance of a remarkable actress. 

The late Mary Twala Mhlongo, recognizable from Beyoncé’s blockbuster musical Black Is King, gives a heartbreaking, career-capping performance as Mantoa, an 80-year-old woman who has lived in a small Lesotho village for her entire life. While preparing for her own death, she receives word of an accident that has killed her only son, leaving her entirely alone, with only the respect of her community, the traditions of her ancestors, and the courage of her convictions. When her community must relocate to make way for a nearby dam which would flood her family’s burial ground, Mantoa draws a line in the sand and becomes an unlikely political and spiritual leader. 

Cryptic, impressionistic, and informed by magical realist literature, THIS IS NOT A BURIAL contains some of the most striking visual compositions in recent cinema, all the more impressive considering this is the first feature-length film for both cinematographer Pierre de Villiers and production designer Leila Walter. The cumulative power of Mantoa’s sacrificial crusade, Mhlongo’s earthy performance, and Mosese’s visionary artistry announce an unmistakable landmark in African cinema.

“Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese's mise-en-scène and camerawork are breathtaking.” – Diego Semerene, Slant Magazine

“This is a severe, uncompromising film; it's more like a series of images strung together, each framed exactingly, like a painting.” – Cath Clarke, The Guardian

“Reinvigorates one's faith in the artistic capacity of the medium through its pure intuition of form and mastery of intent.” – Andrew Bundy, The Playlist

  • Year
  • Runtime
    117 minutes
  • Language
    Southern Sotho
  • Country
  • Premiere
    Premiere Run
  • Director
    Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese
  • Cast
    Mary Twala Mhlongo