PILI – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Pili lives in rural Tanzania and struggles to support her two young children, since her husband left them, as a daily farm laborer. But then the opportunity she has been waiting for pops up: a market kiosk in her small village comes vacant, and if she can scrape together the fee its owner is asking, she can start her own business — she wants to sell beauty products — and can finally get herself and her family on a solid financial footing. It’s a big if… and it will demand than she make some extraordinarily difficult decisions, ones that could have life-altering repercussions in all sorts of ways.

This feature directorial debut from British filmmaker Leanne Welham, which she wrote with Sophie Harman, is wholly remarkable. Pili was shot in the village where it is set, utilizing mostly nonprofessional actors, telling a story that is only just barely fictionalized from their own lives. Bello Rashid, as Pili, gives the film a quiet yet rock-solid center: there hasn’t been a movie like this one before, showcasing the determination, the dignity, and the indomitable spirit of the women of East Africa, and Rashid presents a proud portrait. Unexpected angles on Pili’s life bring us a new understanding of the challenges women like her face. Continue reading…

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).