Basotho film “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection”, a haunting tribute to land, community and ancestry, will screen for one week in order to qualify for the 93rd Academy Awards. The film, which stars the late South African theatre and film legend Mary Twala, kicks off its Oscar-qualifying run on Friday, November 27, at Ster Kinekor Tygervalley in Cape Town and Ster Kinekor Sandton in Johannesburg.
The film will screen until Friday, December 4, in line with the rules for qualifying films for the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards, which requires films to screen for seven days to qualify for a 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. She added: “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.”
Directed by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, “This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection” is the first film from Lesotho, produced by a Mosotho filmmaker, to screen internationally. The film was dubbed as one of the “best films” by critics at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which was held in January. The visually striking drama, set in the mountains of Lesotho, opens with an elderly widow named Mantoa (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. “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.”
This film was among some of the last projects Twala did before passing away on July, 4, 2020. She was 80 years old.