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Review: The Coming of Age

BY: AMANDA NDABA

In a world where people never seem to have enough, Coming of Age is a beautiful film that reminds us that some are quiet simply content to live their lives without the want of earth shattering ambitions.

Teboho Edkins follows two pairs of youths at the precipice of end of their childhood and the beginning of their adulthood; though anyone who has lived through that time knows that “coming of age” occurs later in life, and let’s face some us never quite get there. The expectation when filmmakers observe people living in rural areas that are underdeveloped is that the highlight and focus of the film will be on some form of plight or poverty or social/economical/health dysfunction, and yet in Teboho Edkins' documentary Coming Of Age is quite the opposite.

Edkin’s brilliant landscape shots; the quiet of the snow covered mountains in winter and the lush never ending greenery of the warmer months, show the ineffable calm and beauty of Lesotho while filming Retabile and his brother Mosaku during their eight months in the remotest parts of the mountains. The South African film-maker also introduces us to Lefa a girl who loves so hard it’s charming and wonderful to watch as she says goodbye to her friend, Senate after receiving a scholarship to study at a high school far from home. Shot during a two year period Edkins takes us successfully into the lives of these teenagers at important moments in their lives.

We see the young boys battle between the choice of school and work, whereas the girls there is no choice - education is the priority. This documentary, currently in competition at The Durban International Festival is a stand out and must see; while many others may blend into the non-stop show of violence, depression and the wagging of the “you’re so naughty,” finger at humanity. This is the expectation we have created, and Coming of Age stands out as beacon for the harmony that people have found in their roles in life and will remain in my memory for being so simple and beautiful.

The assumption is to always provide aid and shed light to those we view as living lesser than us and it may come as a surprise that they themselves dont see anything wrong with their lives. Not because they dont know any better but because their spirits and souls are a lot calmer than those of us “who know better.” They are content and at peace with herding sheep and providing for their families or attending school and church and laughing with a friend. Simple things that many would view as “not enough,” is more than enough for the children who are “coming of age.” when I was at the point where Retabile, Mosaku, Senate and Lefa are, I remember it being a time of intense pressure.

The gnawing questions of whats next, what am I going to do with my life, how I will change the world and make life better for those around me, were my daily struggles. I find it beautiful that these kids at such a young age have found their places in the world and are content and happy with their lives. When Lefa prays at school for the safe keeping of her grandmother and good grade, it is a beautiful moment in the documentary that will stay with me. Without a doubt Coming of Age should be at the top of everyone’s "must-see" list.

 

Amanda Ndaba is a graduate of AFDA, having studied Film & Live Performance. She is currently pursuing a career in 
creative writing.

The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.

 

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