SXSW 2021: “Bantú Mama”

© Point Barre

Destiny is a funny thing. When things go from bad to worse, fate plays a trick to change everything in an unthinkable way, to make things happen for the right people at the right time.

Emma (Clarisse Albrecht), an Afropean woman, got herself into legal trouble when she was caught transporting drugs in the airport in the Dominican Republic. On her way to prison, a road accident happens. Unconscious and injured, she is found by three minors in the extremely dangerous district of Santo Domingo. What Emma does not know yet is how fortunate she is for being found by the children, whose survival will truly depend on each other.

Emma is not violent. That’s something we were already clear about. But when we meet the stubborn and mature Tina (Scarlet Reyes), we yet don’t know what to expect from her. However, Thulo (Arturo Perez) is the one we must be worried about as he is tough, uncompromising and deals with the wrong people, which can someday bring down him too. When Emma finds in their small and humble place a refuge from the authorities, she becomes a mother figure for them, showing them the meaning of love and care. Tina sees that too. Therefore, she has a dangerous plan to pull off. If it succeeds, it’s a win-win situation for Emma, if she agrees to Tina’s terms.

“Bantú Mama” is a beautiful tale of friendship that teaches children and adult the importance of being co-dependent or being in charge of something bigger than yourself. Emma, Tina and Cuki (Euris Javiel), Tina’s little brother, see how different it is when they have someone at home that can cook for them and give them a hug before they go to sleep. Tina may not need that much but Cuki, the youngest one, needs it the most. As you look at it through Tina’s eyes, you realize it’s up to her to make the biggest sacrifice. A sacrifice that may turn her world into an emptier place, but fill someone else’s with life and dedication.

Written by Clarisse Albrecht and Ivan Herrera and directed by Ivan Herrera, “Bantú Mama” is a decent international drama that shows poverty, struggle, hope and love in one prism. It’s certainly about mistakes people make. However, what the film captures are steps one can take to redeem themselves. Maybe not for society, but for one’s own peace of mind, by taking one right step forward to change the future of everyone involved for the better.

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