This is the twenty-third film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2022-23", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 8th annual challenge, and my fourth time participating (my first year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", the second year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", and last year at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2021-22"). Week 23 is called "African Movie Academy Awards Week":
This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film nominated for an African Movie Academy Awards. Thank you to Adam Graff for this handy list, found here.
Another great challenge category, as I had seen none of the movies on Adam Graff's list, an empty spot in my lifetime of watching that needed to be filled. The theme is timeless, progress and its implications, as a small village is forced to resettle when a new dam will flood the land they have lived on for as long as anyone can remember.
There are several elements that raise This Is Not a Burial above the average. The soundtrack by Yu Miyashita is uncanny, sounding modern yet also connecting to the land and the past. The cinematography of Pierre De Villiers, which won an African Academy Award, is good at showing the expanses of the land, but also inventive in smaller, tighter places indoors. Director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese is always in command (he, too, won an Academy Award).
Best of all is 80-year-old Mary Twala Mhlongo as a woman near death who is more willing to accept that death than she is to accept the "progress" that will destroy her homeland. Her performance was so authentic, I thought Mosese had gotten an amateur village woman to play the part ... Twala's work isn't the least bit hesitant or amateur, but she is so believable I could barely believe she was acting. Her character is the heart of the village, and her acting is the heart of this film.