Review: ‘Duka’s Dilemma’

Returning to Ethiopia after eight years, ethnographer/documentarian Jane Lydall reconnects with a Hamar woman named Duka. Duka's husband Sago has taken a second wife, an accepted but rare practice among the Hamar, and now the family members must deal with the emotional fallout.

Returning to Ethiopia after eight years, ethnographer/documentarian Jane Lydall reconnects with a Hamar woman named Duka. Duka’s husband Sago has taken a second wife, an accepted but rare practice among the Hamar, and now the family members must deal with the emotional fallout. The resulting, sometimes fascinating plunge into domestic drama would feel voyeuristic if subjects did not clearly welcome Lydall’s camera as witness, confidant and sounding-board. Docu, already well-traveled on ethnographic fest track, offers spicy promise of soap-opera situations and exotic rituals which could attract PBS or indie auds.

Duka wonders why Sago has chosen a second, younger wife: Is it because she is getting old or is it to help her since she was ill? Boro, the new spouse, seldom speaks. But as pic progresses, the wives manage to rub along quite nicely, the real fireworks emanating from Sago’s mother Sagonda, whose championship of Duka is a mixed blessing. Except for an extended birthing sequence where women cluster around Boro, film is owned by Duka — a familiarly lucid woman in amazingly unfamiliar surroundings.

Duka's Dilemma

Ethiopia-Germany

Production

A Jean Lydall production in co-production with Westdeutcher Rundfunk Koln, IWF Knowledge and Media, Gottingen. Produced by Jean Lydall, Werner Dutsch. Directed by Jean Lydall, Kaira Strecker.

Crew

Camera (color, video), Strecker; editor, Strecker; sound, Strecker; sound designer, Klaus Kemner. Reviewed on cassette at Margaret Mead Film Festival, New York, Nov. 9, 2002. Hamar dialogue. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Duka, Sego, Boro, Sagonda.

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