CMU Film Festival Presents Award-Winning Film from Lesotho

"This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection" is the first feature filmed entirely with local actors speaking in the Sesotho language

The Carnegie Mellon University International Film Festival is showcasing its second film of the season through Feb. 12 . " This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection " combines brilliant acting, stunning visuals and an amazing soundscape. It will premiere at the festival before the film has its theatrical release in the U.S.

In the film, Mantoa, an 80-year-old widow, lives alone in a small village in Lesotho where many of the men have left to work in neighboring South Africa. After learning that her son, her only remaining family member, has died in a mining accident, she struggles to find meaning in her life and starts to arrange for her burial. As she does so, however, she hears of plans to build a dam that will flood the valley where her village lies. The ancient burial grounds will be lost and the villagers forced to flee their homes. Mantoa begins inciting collective resistance to the project and to the language of national development used to promote it.

"This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection" is directed and written by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, a self-taught filmmaker from Lesotho, who is based in Berlin. Through his vision, the film is a vivid meditation on life, death and the power of the human spirit. It is brought to life by veteran actress Mary Twala Mhlongo, who portrays the struggle and achievement of a woman fighting her last and most important battle. The film’s visuals are equally stunning as we learn about multiple displacements during a time of struggle in Lesotho. Director Mosese poses fascinating questions about story-telling and religion and prompts us to ask how people bring meaning to their lives, and the role each of us plays among our friends, family and in our community. He does this through a distinctive method of narration that perfectly matches its subject matter, differing significantly from the platitudes of Hollywood conventions.

Allen Hunter of Screen Daily wrote about the film, "A vivid, beautifully crafted reflection on identity, community and the tension between respecting age-old traditions and accepting the seemingly unstoppable march of progress."

The film has won several prestigious awards and has been nominated for more. It was selected as the Lesotho entry for "Best International Feature Film" at the 93rd Academy Awards, the first time Lesotho had made a submission in the category. At the 2020 Africa Movie Academy Awards, the film was nominated for several awards, winning Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Actress in a Leading Role and Best Director. At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Visionary Filmmaking.

Viewing for "This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection" will be held Feb. 6–12. The first 50 people to register with the promo code "CMUIFF" will be able to watch for free. Tickets afterwards will be $5. After purchasing tickets or redeeming the code, viewers will have until Feb. 12 to watch the film, regardless of when the ticket was purchased. After the initial viewing of the film, viewers will have a 48-hour window to finish watching.

There will be a live discussion on 6 p.m. EST on Feb. 11 via Zoom. The discussion will include participation from the director, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, and will be moderated by Macrina C. Lelei, director of African Studies Program at the University of Pittsburgh. The discussion is free but requires registration, information for which can be found on the CMU IFF website.

This event is organized in conjunction with the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, the African Studies Program at Pitt and the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion at CMU. The program was sponsored by CMU’s Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE), Humanities Scholars Program, Department of History and Graduate Student Assembly. The CMU film festival prides itself on showcasing films from around the world that transport the viewer to new cultures and experiences. These films use a cinematic language to help us learn something new about the unfamiliar.

The Carnegie Mellon International "Faces" Film Festival is a project of the Humanities Center at CMU. Films showcased focus on current and global social issues that create meaningful dialogue across the broader Pittsburgh community.


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