You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Everyone’s Child

Richly colored, well-heeled village movie, set in today's changing Zimbabwe, "Everyone's Child" scores points with music and lensing, but is ultimately sunk by stiff thesp work and overboard message-making.

Richly colored, well-heeled village movie, set in today’s changing Zimbabwe, “Everyone’s Child” scores points with music and lensing, but is ultimately sunk by stiff thesp work and overboard message-making.

Title is a Hillary Clinton-esque reference to the way even rural Africans are now succumbing to First World apathy and materialism, increasingly putting kids at risk. Story centers on pretty teen Tamari (Nomsa Mlambo) and her younger brother Itai (Thulani Sandhla), whose parents suddenly die, leaving them in charge of several younger siblings, with precious few resources.

Their grouchy uncle Ozias (Walter Muparutsa) isn’t much help; in fact, he walks off with the few baubles and tools they have. Tamari is mildly in love with an itinerant guitarist (Chunky Phiri), but when he hits the road, she gives in to the cash-laden advances of a local shopkeeper and is branded a prostitute by hardened villagers. Itai, meanwhile, skedaddles to the capital, Harare, where his experiences with drugs, petty theft and street gangs, although well staged, are already all too familiar to Western auds.

The attractive cast is handled with sympathy, but the players are severely hampered by helmer Tsitsi Dangarembga’s decision to shoot her story almost entirely in (sometimes phonetic-sounding) English. This brings a formal, sluggish quality to the otherwise gracefully mounted proceedings, and the result is a needlessly long 90 minutes, with about a half-hour’s worth of truly interesting material. The pronounced lack of narrative zip will offset any marketing advantage the pic’s producers (a biracial collective of African and Euro progressives) figured they’d get from the lingo decision.

Still, the first-time helmer a popular playwright and novelist who studied pic-making in Berlin has an eye for sunlit details and a solid ear for African sounds. Both the score and story are helped by Phiri singing his own tunes. (Linking bits with droning synthesizer accompaniment, though infrequent, are more pedestrian.) Pic may play better on music and ethno circuits than in regular fests. Crime and sex-abuse themes are muted enough to make it useful educational fare, and this “Child,” with proper nurturing, could fit into adventurous pubcasting plans.

Popular on Variety

Everyone's Child

Production: A Media for Development Trust (Harare) production. Produced by Jonny Persey, John Riber, Ben Zulu. Directed by Tsitsi Dangarembga. Screenplay, Dangarembga, Riber, Andrew Whaley , from a story by Shimmer Chinodya.

Crew: Camera (color), Patrick Lindsell; editor, Luise Riber; music, Keith Farquharson; production design, David Guwaza; costume design, Beaulah Guwaza; sound, Bob Hay; assistant directors, Jema Spring, Garikayi Chawasarira; casting, Andrew Whaley. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival, Sept. 11, 1996. Running time: 90 MIN.

With: With: Nomsa Mlambo, Thulani Sandhla, Walter Muparutsa, Elijah Madzikatire, Nkululeko Phiri, Killness Nyati.

More Film

  • She Monkeys

    LevelK Boards International Sales on Lisa Aschan's 'Call Mom!' (EXCLUSIVE)

    LevelK has acquired international sales rights to Lisa Aschan’s new film “Call Mom!”, a sequel to her well-received feature debut, “She Monkeys.” Produced by Anna-Maria Kantarius (“Amateurs”) at Garagefilm Intl., “Call Mom!” follows Niki, a 35-year-old who lives like she’s 25 and is forced to come to grips with all of her relationships and past [...]

  • The Spokeswoman

    Mexico’s Luciana Kaplan on Indigenous Candidate Doc ‘The Spokeswoman’

    In 2017, Luciana Kaplan’s globe-spanning documentary feature “Rush Hour” was selected as the best in competition at that year’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival – only one of many such plaudits for the film – and the director returned to the festival Impulso section for pix-in-post with her next latest, “The Spokeswoman,” taking three of the [...]

  • Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi

    China Box Office: 'Charlie's Angels' Kept Earthbound by Local Romcom

    The new “Charlie’s Angels” reboot was no match for a local romantic comedy or a 20-year-old Giuseppe Tornatore film at the Chinese box office, bringing in just $7.6 million in its debut weekend, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, the film [...]

  • Climbing Blind

    ‘Climbing Blind’ Snares Kendal Mountain Festival Grand Prize

    KENDAL    “Climbing Blind,” from Alastair Lee, took the Grand Prize at the 2019 Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday. Detailing the ascent of a vertical rock pillar, the film revealed how a blind mountaineer led the climb, assisted only by a sight-partner a rope length below. The film had particular significance for a British audience, [...]

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content