A woman’s purpose appears to be clear and simple, according to the collective imagination. We fall in love with a prince, we marry him, have lots of children and live happily ever after. This myth, ingrained in everyone’s mind, is something that director Priscilla Anany, skilfully explores and dismantles in her debut feature, Children of the Mountain.
Shot in the streets of Accra, Ghana’s capital, the film tells the story of Essuman, a young woman who is living the ‘perfect family life’ until drama breaks out in her home following the birth of her son, who is born with a cleft lip, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. Essuman is not only rejected by her partner, family and community at large, she is also accused of being responsible for her son’s deformities.
Ostracised, Essuman becomes relentless in her search for a miracle cure for her son. We accompany her in her trials and tribulations, which reveal a young woman in conflict with her own self and struggling to break free. All throughout her quest, Essuman leans on her friend Asantewaa, who despite a divorce and suffering the pain of not being able to bear children, provides Essuman with unconditional, sisterly support.
Throughout the film, director Anany deftly denounces cultural norms and beliefs that can lead to destruction, including the abuse of male power and religion; the shortcomings of Ghana’s health system; the humiliation women are subjected to by other women; fear of the unknown; betrayal and lies; and above all, ignorance.
Despite the multitude of issues it deals with, the film is a beautiful and unique piece of work that is cleverly articulated. There is no cumbersome moment, just scenes of intense compassion and a longing to see our main character finally find happiness and a cure for her son. Music, landscapes and modest costumes give the movie an authentic tone, and its aesthetic simplicity gives even more weight to the messages conveyed by the narrative.
At its core, the film sends a very inspiring and universal message of female empowerment.
Buy tickets to see the UK Premiere of Children of the Mountain
Fri 4 Nov | 18:30 | Ritzy Brixton BOOK NOW
Sat 5 Nov | 19:00 | Bernie Grant Arts Centre BOOK NOW
Mélissa Zibi is a writer and art director of Cameroonian descent. Passion and imagination are the two words which define her work, a subtle mix of symbolism and romanticism with an ethnic touch, which takes root in her African origins. Her current goal is to work with international brands, creating links and collaborations with African artisans.