STAFF PICK: NENE CAMARA, PROGRAMMING TRAINEE
25 October 2018
My staff pick for AiM 2018 is Djon Africa, a colourful film that follows Djon, a young endearing rebellious boy caught between the transitional period of teen-hood into adulthood. Djon is unexpectedly stopped in the streets of Lisbon, where he has spent most of his life, by a stranger who recognizes him as his estranged father's son. After this chance encounter, Djon is compelled to understand his family connection that a stranger was able to perceive immediately; so Djon decides to visit his family’s country of Cape Verde, an island off the African coast, to find his father and family. This plays on the actor's own real-life story: Miguel Moreira, who plays the central character, Djon, and was also the main subject of the previous documentary, Li ké terra, by the directors that followed undocumented Cape Verdeans now living in Portugal.
In Cape Verde, Djon struggles to find the pieces and answers he is looking for, he quickly becomes swept away with hypnotic noises, friendly people and beautiful landscapes of the island. This cinematic retelling reminds us, the spectators, that there is much joy in Djon's journey of rediscovery, not simply as an observation of nationalism and place but also, identity.
Portuguese directors João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis paint a colourful picture of Djon and Cape Verde, as we watch the familiar tale of 'returning' unfold. This made me think and question parts that parallel my own story, and many other people's stories; myself, being from African ancestry and having family from the Diasporas, how can tracing back / recognising / remembering / finding the pieces offer insightful resolutions of our pasts, our histories, our ancestral memories but also, ourselves?
This film is a fictional document of one person's particular journey, nonetheless it is a universal narrative that one chance encounter can influence a whole chain of events and stories.That is what makes this film special to me; we cannot determine any conclusions or definite answers on what Djon's journey will provide, we can simply watch, enjoy and hopefully take meaningful pieces for ourselves.