SXSW 2021: ‘Bantú Mama’ Review

SXSW 2021: ‘Bantú Mama’ Review – Bantú Mama, the first Dominican feature film to be selected by SXSW, made its World premiere in the Narrative Feature category on March 16 at the South by Southwest 2021 Film Festival. Written and directed by Iván Herrera, Bantú Mama tells a contemporary tale about a different kind of re-encounter between Africa and the Caribbean.

The film, subtitled in Spanish, follows Emma, a French and Cameroonian woman who escapes after being arrested in the Dominican Republic and is sheltered by a group of minors, in a dangerous district of Santo Domingo. By becoming their protégée and maternal figure, she will see her destiny change inexorably.

Emma (played by Clarisse Albrecht who is also a co-executive producer and co-screenwriter), delivers an uncomplicated and impactful performance as a woman searching for something not entirely clear to her, but is visible to the viewer. The fateful journey to self-realization, discovery and freedom doesn’t always come easy, and it is the manner in which Emma navigates those invisible unknowns along the way, that makes for an emotional and beautiful film experience.

Clarisse Albrecht

Equally impressive, are the performances of the young minors (Scarlet Reyes, Arturo Perez, Euris Javiel), who find and help Emma, forever changing the perspective and trajectory of all of their lives. A huge nod to Scarlet Reyes for her masterful command of the screen and her role as T.I.N.A. The relationship that emerges from their serendipitous collision, is what makes Bantú Mama radiate with warmth and substance.

The film does an appreciable job emphasizing and honoring the similarities, differences and the unsung beauty that exists within Afro-European and Afro-Caribbean cultures; a rich and personal context told through vivid imagery, symbolism and a detailed point of view. What stood out the most was the connected use of water and the color yellow and how both points were utilized to articulate Emma’s quiet motivations. The film’s beginning and end serve as the perfect book ends to a memorable tale that keeps the viewer drawn in and just as affected as the film’s protagonists.  

Cast: Clarisse Albrecht, Scarlet Reyes, Arturo Perez, Euris Javiel, Donis Taveras, Jarold Santos

Director: Ivan Herrera

Screenwriter: Clarisse Albrecht, Ivan Herrera

Executive Producer: Ivan Herrera, Clarisse Albrecht, Nicolas LaMadrid, Edna Lerebours, Tim Voelkner, Pablo Mustonen, Agustin Lama, Omar Hasbun, Marco Herrera, Nabil Elderkin

Producer: Ivan Herrera, Nicolas LaMadrid, Franmiris Lombert

SXSW 2021 Film Festival – The List

SXSW 2021: ‘Bantú Mama’ Review

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