Magazine article Screen International

'Djon Africa': Rotterdam Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Djon Africa': Rotterdam Review

Article excerpt

João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis return to the story of Cape Verde-born Migual Moreira, as he attempts to find his father

Djon Africa

Dirs: João Miller Guerra, Filipa Reis. Portugal-Brazil-Cape Verde. 2018. 95mins

Documentary duo João Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis draw heavily on their background in factual filmmaking for their heady fiction feature debut, which takes as its jumping off point the real life situation of Miguel Moreira. The central character in Djon África, he was also the subject of their previous film, Li ké terra, a documentary about undocumented Cape Verdeans living in Portugal. Miguel travels back to Cape Verde in an attempt to track down the father he has never met; however his shambling journey once he gets there is scripted, by João Miller Guerra and Pedro Pinho (The Nothing Factory). Regularly baked on grogue (fearsome Cape Verdean rum), Miguel starts to lose sight of his quest, and lets the rhythm - and the music - of the islands sweep him along.

The film leaves us with questions of identity and nationality.

Like its central character, the film has a leisurely, slightly woozy appeal and, while it doesn’t offer much in the way of closure, it does have bags of sweltering atmosphere and will benefit from interest piqued in Portuguese art cinema, some of it - notably Miguel Gomes’ Arabian Nights trilogy and Pinho’s The Nothing Factory - which blends fact and fiction to similarly intriguing effect. A healthy festival run should follow the film’s premiere in competition in Rotterdam, although theatrical prospects are less certain. Although the film’s running time is rather more cinema-friendly than those of Gomes and Pinho’s films, Djon Africa’s pleasures are lower key; it lacks the showy formal daring of the other films. …

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