DVD Review – Africa United

Africa United DVDDirected by Debs Gardner-Paterson
Starring Eriya Ndayambaje, Roger Nsengiyumva, Sanyu Joanita Kintu & Yves Dusenge
Release Date: 28/02/11
Available from Play, Amazon and HMV

This was an odd movie. I always look forward to the family movie for the London Film Festival, it’s interesting to see what they pick, it has to be family friendly yet it has to cater to a mildly artistic crowd and this one works in that spectrum but that’s not necessarily a positive. The film follows the story of three Rwandan children, two from the slums Dudu and Beatrice (Ndaymbaje & Kintu) and the mildly well off Fabrice (Nsengiyumva), all travelling to the world cup so that they can get Fabrice one to appear in a half time show. They come across new friends and some tribulations on their way.

I can imagine that if I watched this as a child that I would like it, it is very appealing, but I would instantly forget it. It has a nice message; the film is trying to teach children about Africa and the hardships that come across the children of the country whilst also bringing us an original story with some entertaining elements, but doesn’t that sound like it’s trying to do to much? The film opens with the character of Dudu teaching us how to make a football (or a soccer ball for my American friends) out of a condom, a plastic bag and some wire, one does start to wonder at this point, how much of its audience is going to know what a condom is? Later on there are subplots about African children contracting HIV (which feels tacked on to make us feel bad, it really adds very little to the plot) and one about child African soldiers, these subplots are also so glazed over at points that we quickly forget about them, this just seems too much for children to take in. It has good intentions yet perhaps it is expecting too much of its audience.

The performances are very good, especially Ndaymbaje who charms and stuns with his performance and kudos for casting Emmanuel Jal, a real life child soldier as a teen soldier), the direction is fine, though I highly commend directors who implement stop motion animation as a storytelling method. It’s a fun flick that is a little heavy handed and predictable but I doubt it will be remembered by next year.


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