Film Review: “I Am Slave” (2010)


Directed by: Gabriel Range

Writer: Jeremy Brock (screenplay)

Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Isaach De Bankolé, Lubna Azabal, Yigal Naor, Hiam Abbass, Nonso Anozie, Nyokabi Gethaiga,  Nasser Memarzia, Selva Rasalingam

How many slaves are still out there? How many stories still have not been heard? Maybe there is someone in our neighborhood who is a slave and we are just not aware of their plight. Malia, a twelve year old girl and a daughter of a champion wrestler Bah, is abducted from her Sudanese village home where everyone refers to her as ‘Princess.’  A pro-government Arab militia sells her as a slave to a heartless and cruel woman living in Khartoum, who beats her for touching her daughter. After spending six years in such slavery, Malia accompanies the woman’s family to London, where she continues to work as a slave, but in much worse conditions. To keep her family from being killed, Malia does nothing but remain silent and does what is ordered.. But one day, when she is grown and becomes a young lady, she will do what is best for her – run away!

It truly  alarms me that while we are living in the 21st  century, where the world never stops advancing, and people are becoming more open-minded and tolerant of new things, we still hear that  even in a beautiful and well-developed country such as England,  slavery still exists.

“I am Slave” has been  inspired by the true story of Mende Nazer, who spent years in slavery in London, till age XX.

Being separated from your family, where you`re loved and admired by your parents, and your neighbors is always heartbreaking. But when you`re destined to work in someone`s house as a slave, without even having the opportunity to see daylight, is even worse. But what if the person you work for all day and night is a cruel, insensitive, and hard-hearted person? Unfortunately, Haleema (played by Lubna Azabal) is a harsh and unkind human being, who does not hesitate to beat Malia for touching her daughter.  She tries to make Malia`s (played by Wunmi Mosaku) life miserable, acting very inhumane towards her; forgetting that Haleema, herself, is a human being.

Malia`s father is a famous wrestling champion, who is highly respected by the Sudanese villagers who live near the Nubar Mountains. One day, a pro-government Arab militia enters the village and kills most of the people. They abduct all the children: boys and girls, and sell them into slavery. Unfortunately, a little girl whose name is Malia, is one of these children. She is brave, and faces her new reality with strength. She tries to be calm and quiet; doing everything her master asks of her. What else can she do, except to be a good and obedient slave?

It would be much easier to review Gabriel Range`s “I am Slave” if the story were fictional. However, the saddest part of this film is that the story is true and devastating; this happens every day in London. Despite the optimistic ending to this film, the end title states that there is evidence that up to 5,000 young women are living as slaves in London today. Believe it or not, it claims this is true, which makes this film even more difficult to watch.

We should probably be thankful to the Gabriel Range that he did not cover all Mende Nazer`s experience’s in the film; where a 12 year old girl is separated from her family –is sent to a foreign country, locked in a house to do nothing but hard work, and is not permitted to talk to anyone. All she receives as retribution for her hard work is constant insult and abuse.

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