BREATHING IN – Review by Nadine Whitney

Breathing In is a puzzle that doesn’t provide a simple solution. The performances are deliberately melodramatic and often overwrought. Paranoia, fear, and exhaustion are met with cold rebukes or warm embraces. Jaco Bouwer teases out answers and then pulls them back again. If there are indeed answers they come from the splendid symbolism in the film. A wounded horse, a pair of enemy boots, a burning piano, a stolen locket. Nightmares are vivid and cosmic – inside a slouch hat there is a portal to the infinite, graves swallow up long haired women. Nothing is right, everything is off kilter, nought can be trusted.

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GOOD MADAM – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

A horror film about the way the legacy of apartheid continues to be internalized on a personal and professional level in contemporary South Africa, Good Madamfollows single mother Tsidi who, after the death of her beloved grandmother, is forced to move with her daughter Winnie into the house of a rich white woman Diane where Tsidi grew up, and where her mother Mavis still works as a housekeeper. Good Madam is a masterclass in how horror can speak to race and inequality, set in a world of servitude presented as a terrifying, powerful and unrelentingly enduring mode of postcolonial possession – both literally and metaphorically – whose presence can be felt long after the official era of apartheid has supposedly ended.

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MLUNGU WAM (GOOD MADAM) (TIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

A horror film about the way the legacy of apartheid continues to be internalized on a personal and professional level in contemporary South Africa, Mlungu Wam follows single mother Tsidi who, after the death of her beloved grandmother, is forced to move with her daughter Winnie into the house of a rich white woman Diane where Tsidi grew up, and where her mother Mavis still works as a housekeeper. Mlungu Wam is a masterclass in how horror can speak to race and inequality, set in a world of servitude presented as a terrifying, powerful and unrelentingly enduring mode of postcolonial possession – both literally and metaphorically – whose presence can be felt long after the official era of apartheid has supposedly ended.

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MY OCTOPUS TEACHER – Review by Susan Granger

I’ve seen hundreds of nature documentaries but nothing like Craig Foster’s compelling, Oscar-winning underwater adventure, chronicling his free-diving – without wetsuit or scuba gear- in the frigid Atlantic Ocean in the Cape of Storms, off the Western coast of South Africa every day for a year. Best known for filming The Great Dance (2000) about the indigenous Kalahari San trackers, Foster was, admittedly, mentally depressed and physically exhausted when he started swimming in a shallow cove with a dense kelp forest.

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