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With a compassionate and imaginative boldness, first-time British feature director Leanne Welham has shot a film about HIV in Tanzania. A drama that arose from what was originally a documentary project, Pili uses mostly non-professionals, many in just the same situation as their characters.
Bello Rashid plays Pili Hussein, a young woman tilling the fields for an exploitative low wage, and secretly taking meds to manage the HIV condition she has told nobody about, not since her husband deserted her because of it. Now she brings up two small children on her own, and there is another dark memory concerning family that recurs to her in flashback.
Then Pili is offered the chance to take over a market stall, this lucrative opening being the gift of lascivious manager Mahera (Nkwabi Elias Ng’angasamala), who wants a hefty cash deposit up front within 48 hours, together perhaps with other, more personal considerations. So now Pili must desperately find the cash, and the film shows how she is under pressure from three sources: her health, her poverty, and what the community considers to be her sexual availability. The fact that she has been singled out causes resentful gossip from others who were eyeing the market opening.
This is a calm, walking-pace movie – opaque, in some ways, and the undemonstrative acting style does not easily render up the agony and suspense of Pili’s situation, and maybe this can be a little frustrating. Yet there are interesting touches. Welham allows us to register the startling sight of two white tourists, casually looking over a stall as Pili walks past: here is the opportunity, here are the people with buying power, here are the forces of capital that Pili must negotiate as best she can. This is a thoughtful film.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Pili review – hard lives and tough choices in rural Tanzania | Drama films