When you’ve read and written a lot of stories, and watched classic award-winning films, you tend to find it easier to configure the plot at least 30 minutes into the film. This one was quite different. The screeching, mysterious and to a certain extent, spooky sounds accompanied by the slow, moving picturesque and poetic narration built up the eerie tone – which sent chills down my spine. It was at that moment that I was assured the next two hours were going to be uncanny… 

‘This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection’ is a complex film. 

It has depth. From the beginning to the end, not a lot is said in words, but other aspects that make up the film communicate what could have been written as dialogue in the script. You’d have to watch the film at least twice to fully comprehend it. One aspect that stood out for me was the use of sound effects. The sound effects said more than what the actors vocalised. 

The opening scene was one of my favourites. I liked it because it set the right mood. I had watched the trailer beforehand, however, being reminded of what I was getting myself into, and also having the tone set from the onset through sound effects was necessary. 

This film is about resistance and resilience. The main character is played by the late acting legend, Mary Twala. She delivered a stellar performance as she always did. For this performance, she won Best Actress at Hong Kong’s International Film Festival in 2020. She plays the character of Mantoa, an 80-year-old woman who has lost all her family members, including her children. Her pain is exacerbated when she and her fellow villagers are forcibly being removed from the land because of the construction of a dam. 

Mantoa, as old as she is, fights with all her strength against the removal of her people in their land. The film is set in Lesotho, and the language used is pure Sesotho – which makes it surreal because nothing gets lost in translation. 

The cinematography encapsulates the beauty of rural Lesotho (in 2020, this film won the July Prize for Cinematography at the Montclair Film Festival) – despite the poverty, visuals of the location adequately captured the essence of the ‘home land.’ This is what Director and Writer Lemohang Mosese did quite purposefully, he said on an Instagram post that he wanted the landscape to be a character in the film, and confront the ‘tyranny of beauty.’

Being a young man from a village, I could almost relate and sense the anger of having my home taken away from me. Looking broadly at this film’s storyline, it feeds into the capitalist world we live in. People lose their homes and the remains of their ancestors only for a few individuals to gain. 

This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection is not just a title but a statement – it is the first Lesotho film to have entered the Oscars race for best international feature, as well as the Golden Globes. 

Did I enjoy watching this film? Well, I was left with a lot of questions and felt indignation building up within me, but I’ll leave you to your resolve.