Sunday, 28 September 2008

DEAR CINEMA by Juru Abraham

Terra Sonâmbula:  A lovely film based on a major African novel

Not many filmgoers may be aware of Portuguese director Teresa Prata’s Sleepwalking Land. A film that took Ms Prata some 7 years to complete, it is yet to be extensively screened beyond the international film festival circuit. The movie is evidently Ms Prata’s labor of love after she spotted a goldmine in Mia Couto’s Portuguese novel Sleepwalking Land published in 1992. The novel is now widely recognized as a major literary work from and on Africa in recent years. Extracts (translated into English) that I read indicate a remarkable, powerful literary work, falling within the realm of magical realism. It was indeed a work screaming to be captured on celluloid with the help of special effects and convincing local acting talent. The young lady grabbed the opportunity to shoot the film in Mozambique and do the special effects in Portugal. Today, her interesting movie adaptation is helping publicize Mia Couto’s writing even further and is bringing global attention to both the Mozambican and the Portuguese cinema.

Sleepwalking Land is one of the most interesting and realistic films on Africa. In the past two months, the film has won the international FIPRESCI award for the best film in competition at the recent Kerala film festival, and an award for best director at the lesser known Pune film festival.

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