AFF 2008 Reviews

The Tree of Ghibet

D: Nevina Satta, Amedeo D'Adamo; with Corinne Kameny, André Bang, Elisee Koundé.

A small boy (Koundé) is left in the city by his aunt to fend for himself and finds himself taken in by a witch and her gang of little thieves. If that sounds fantastical, it belies this hard-hitting drama that owes more to Ken Loach than Eli Roth. Semi-improvised by the real street-children of Douala in Cameroon for the Traveling Film School charity, this is a stark lesson in the unbearable hardships of life in one of the world's poorest nations. The same social realism is what makes the witch Ghibet – part pimp, part savior to the children – a witch. In a nation where abandoning a child for "demoniacal possession" is legal, Ghibet's visions are no more mysterious than a stick. So it's first-time actress Kameny's weird, erratic, and pained performance as Ghibet that grounds this rough-hewn film in stinking, despairing reality.

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