Call Me Thief | Dir. Daryne Joshua | South Africa, 2016 | 124 mins | Afrikaans with English subtitles.
Daryne Joshua’s impressive debut is a portrait of life on the mean streets of 1960s Cape Town and is as much a paean to the human need for stories – and storytellers – as it is a realistic portrait of youth gang culture. Barely in their teens, Abraham and his three friends form a gang, more out of self-preservation than malice. As they grow up, their harmless antics inevitably evolve into petty crimes, and soon Abraham is in prison. It is there that his gift for telling stories protects him from the worst that prison life has to offer. Now that he’s out he wants to become a writer, but will his gang friends and society give him a chance?
When her baby is born with disabilities, Essuman is told that she has a ‘dirty womb’. Her partner swiftly leaves, shattering her plans for family life and a good place in rural Ghanaian society. Community superstition grows, with whispers of the child’s deformities being the work of the devil. When Essuman can’t find a cure, her desperation mounts, testing her motherly love. Beautifully shot with a stunning central performance from Rukiyat Masud, Priscilla Anany’s debut is a powerful yet subtle story of female empowerment.
This collection of shorts began as an archival project by the Nairobi-based multi-disciplinary Nest Collective, and the testimonies given have been tenderly wrought into funny, endearing – and at times heartbreaking – sketches about the queer experience in Kenya. The quality and imagination on show transcends the predictable but nevertheless disappointing response from the Kenyan Government, who banned it on the grounds of promoting homosexuality.