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‘Joko ya Hao’ is Not Your Typical Apartheid Film

South African filmmaker Mmabatho Montsho doesn’t rely on the politics of her new film to carry it along, but instead imposes her authorial voice on a tribute to Winnie Madikizela Mandela. The objective is not to generate mere anger at the political moment as most films tend to do, but to do the more challenging work of making the viewer intimately aware of its human costs. In Montsho’s peculiar yet accomplished take on the apartheid film, the eyes of God are always watching. The film is peppered with static aerial shots, the perspective of a higher power who is seemingly idle and unmoved by the events taking place within the confines of the frame. In Simphiwe Dana, Montsho has found an actress that is as shapeless as a lump of clay, but is full of warmth and she has chiselled out of her a measured performance minimal in tone and effort. There is much to love about Dana’s take on what becomes of a woman when supposedly the most important thing she was going to be, a wife, has come and gone.