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Monday, May 16, 2011

Africa United

A few weeks ago our WHM colleagues in London sent us a DVD called Africa United. Chris and Josephine, thank you, and happy birthday to Chris today! In honor of the day I am posting a plug for the movie you sent!
The movie weaves the lives of a handful of African teens who are thrown together as they attempt to get from Rwanda to South Africa for the opening of the World Cup Football games. The main character is a plucky, conniving orphan, self-appointed "manager" of his very talented football-playing friend, who has been invited to try out for a youth team called Africa United to be featured in the opening ceremonies. It's more fun to watch than for me to tell why they end up on an odyssey of every form of transportation from foot to boat to ox-cart to truck. But it's a great movie for several reasons. First, it's shot completely on location in eastern and southern Africa, and feels very authentic. The actors are African, a couple were growing up in England but the rest were found by talent searches in Rwanda. At one point the kids start singing a gospel tune as they ride on a truck, and all my kids just brightened up, it was a Swahili song they know from church (seeing something close to their daily life in a movie is not a common experience for MK's). You see a good cross-section of Africa as you watch. Secondly though, this movie fulfills my key requirement: redemption. The characters actually develop as they go along, and there is a powerful scene where one faces the evil he has done in the past as a child soldier, but is still welcomed into the group. Eventually their acceptance heals his scarred heart, which is the Gospel message. Thirdly there is a healthy theme of friendship, of working together, willingness to lay aside individual glory for the good of the community. There is one scene that promotes a not-so-great "listen to your heart not your parents" message, but if you can get past that, it's a movie full of courage, love, perseverance, loyalty. And lastly, there is a repeating creative parable sequence that breaks into the live-action with cartoon.
(Because the themes include AIDS, prostitution, war, and loss, it is appropriate for teens or pre-teens who are aware of the world, but not for younger kids.) Hope this movie gets a wide audience.

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