Country: Iran, Uganda
iranian filmmaker abbas kiarostami’s foray into documentary filmmaking. the film is almost as much a travelogue as it is a documentary on a particular issue (orphans in uganda). in this sense it reminded me a bit of another filmmaker’s foray into documentary film – agnes varda’s “the gleaners and i.” like varda, kiarostami has an inquisitive eye; he’s curious, but not obtrusively so. more than anything the film gives you a good glimpse of life in uganda. it tends towards the orphan theme and what measures are being taken to ameliorate that problem, but all of it is really a window into life in uganda.
like kiarostami’s features, ABC Africa is a slow film by most standards. a lot of time is spent being a fly on the wall rather than asking the subjects questions. most of his curiosity manifests itself in where he puts his camera and how long he leaves it there. he spends a lot of time conveying the everyday lives of his subjects through long takes of townspeople doing everyday things. of course the film is an exploration of the orphan epidemic so there is a good amount of time spent with people who are attempting to fix the problem. there scenes showing the programs for debt management and hospitals which are dealing with aids related issues. the scene in the hospital is one of the most impacting in the film. unfortunately, and strangely, the film didn’t stay with me the same way his features have. i liked the style and i liked what i got out of it, but it was less than what i’ve come to expect from him.