After falling ill, Yesterday (Leleti Khumalo) learns that she is HIV positive. She lives in a remote South African Zulu village, where life is hard and without modern conveniences. It takes weeks to see a doctor. Her husband (Kenneth Khambula) is away at work in the mines near Johannesburg. When he learns of the diagnosis, he is furious. But Yesterday has a bright personality and with a nine year old daughter to tend to, Beauty (Lihle Mvelase), and her one goal is to live long enough to see her child go to school.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Deeply affecting, Yesterday is a wonderfully satisfying if sad film, beautiful not only to look at but through its characters. A sensitive, intelligent and economical script gathers dramatic momentum and builds tension. Gentle yet powerful, gripping yet lyrical, Yesterday rightly earned a nomination for a Foreign Language Oscar in 2005.
The gentleness of Leleti Khumalo as Yesterday (her father gave her the name, believing things were better yesterday than today) and the natural appeal of her daughter Beauty (no need to explain) combine to draw us to them. But the film is not manipulative. There is a raw honesty about its story, one of millions in Africa, which is deeply touching.
Camilla Walker is excellent as the clinic doctor, stretched beyond capacity, as are the smaller supports. But it's the superb screenplay that lifts the film above its disparate parts. While it deals with the scourge of AIDS, it does so through the specifics of these characters. The core social issues are all canvassed, with devastating impact.
Adding to all of the film's powers is the stunning landscape and the Zulu language itself; rare and beautiful sound, it engages us on a deep level somehow that I do not profess to understand.
Published September 6, 2006
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YESTERDAY: DVD (M)
(S. Africa, 2004)
CAST: Kenneth Khambula, Leleti Khumalo, Harriet Lenabe, Lihle Mvelase, Camilla Walker
PRODUCER: Anant Singh, Helena Spring
DIRECTOR: Darrell James Roodt
SCRIPT: Darrell James Roodt
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Brierley
EDITOR: Avril Beukes
MUSIC: Madale Kulele
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tiaan van Tonder
RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 20, 2005
SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and crew interviews, trailer
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: September 6, 2006
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.