Lesotho film debuts at Sundance festival

Mary Twala in the film 'This Is Not A Burial, It's A Resurrection'.
Mary Twala in the film 'This Is Not A Burial, It's A Resurrection'.
Image: Supplied

Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha- and Mary Twala-led film, This is Not A Burial, It's a Resurrection, is set to make its international premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Billed as the home of indie storytelling for more than 35 years, the festival will run between January 23 and February 2 in Utah, US.

Hillary Clinton, Ethan Hawke, Olivia Wilde, Gloria Steinem, Glenn Close and other Hollywood A-listers will debut new projects during the period.

The film is one of 12 selected to screen under the coveted World Cinema Dramatic Competition - with other films coming from France, Iran, Mexico and Germany.

This is Not A Burial, It's aResurrection was helmed by Lesotho-born and Berlin-based filmmaker Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese in his fiction feature directorial debut.

"Sundance is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.

"This is the first film from Lesotho to ever compete at the festival," producer Cait Pansegrouw said.

"This is an enormous achievement, especially considering this is Lemohang's first narrative feature."

Filmed in the remote mountains of Lesotho, it is the first feature-length film to be shot entirely in that country, in Sotho and starring local actors.

"The film depicts the journey of 80-year-old widow Mantoa (Twala), who leads a resistance movement after her village is met with forced resettlement due to the construction of a reservoir.

Lesotho transfers an estimated 780-million cubic metres of water to South Africa annually - Africa's largest water scheme.

According to Mosese, the film was inspired by real-life events.

"When I was a child, we were evicted from our home. Different houses, different schools, different playmates followed.

"I felt as though something had been taken away from me," Mosese recalled.

"My grandmother's village is on the verge of displacement. I still know every texture of her house's walls.

"Soon this place will be no more. Soon this will be razed and flooded and water will be channelled into South Africa.

"I am personally not for or against progress.

"I am more interested in interrogating the psychological, spiritual and social element that come with it."

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