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Based on the novel by Mia Couto, and written and directed by Teresa Prata, Sleepwalking Land is about a young boy, lost amidst a war-torn Mozambique, looking for his family and his home. It is a timeless story of strength, perseverance, and the power of family love—both genetic and chosen. (JRL: 3.5/5)
Review by FF2 Intern Julia Lasker
At the start of Sleepwalking Land, the young “Muidinga” (Nick Lauro Teresa) and an older man, “Tuahir” (Aladino Jesse), wander wearily across dry fields. Muidinga — separated from his mother — needs Tuahir, who is helping to guide him home. Muidinga begins calling him “Tío”, a heartwarming term of endearment given Muidinga’s orphanhood.
They find an abandoned bus that has been plundered by gangs. As they remove the dead bodies of the victim, they search the bus for food and resources, Muidinga finds a journal written by a man named Kindzu (Hélio Fumo). After losing his whole family to a gang, Kindzu had fled his home on a boat and eventually reached a lighthouse. The lighthouse was inhabited by a woman, Farida (Ilda Gonzalez), who told Kindzu about her lost son. Muidinga, separated from his own mother, is enraptured by this story and clings to it as they continue to search for his mother.
As Muidinga and his “Tío” search, they grow close. Not only is Tuahir guiding Muidinga to his mother, but he is also guiding Muidinga through the ins and outs of life.
Sleepwalking Land is one of those films that succeeds in creating a world to transport us to, engaging audiences. Vast, unfamiliar landscapes that make up the background, bizarre encounters with fascinating strangers, and surrealist elements create an enthralling universe. At the same time, the film is weighted by gritty reality, against the backdrop of Mozambique’s civil war. Teresa Prata brings out magic and beauty despite her protagonists’ devastating circumstances. In the era of Covid, we can all extract a lesson from that.
The most powerful part of the film is its message. Though released in 2009, the film is perfect for watching right now because, at its heart, it’s about the power that our love for one another has to bring us together — even in the most hopeless of times.
© Julia Lasker (8/31/20) FF2 Media