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Review: Breathe (Umphefumlo) When You Don’t Have Enough to Breathe

BY MNQOBI DUMA

Tuberculosis is a drastic disease which can lead to death if not treated well.


In his emotional and touching film Breathe (Umphefumulo), Mark Dornford-May illustrates a story of a man with a character name of Lungelo Silwana, who happens to fall in love with a woman, Lusanda ‘Mimi’ Ndlanzi that has been infected with tuberculosis. The story of the film  revolves around four varsity buddies who indulge in most activities that take place in varsity. From the good side of it such being a postgraduate to the negative stuff such as hosting illegal parties where they drink and smoke marijuana. Breathe centers in one of the poorest cities in South Africa by the name of Khayelitsha and a well renowned University in Cape Town.

Khayelitsha is an impoverished township dominated by Xhosa speaking people. Breathe, as a film is very real about this since the majority if not all of the characters in the film are Xhosa speakers. It is for this reason that I commend the director of the film, and because the film doesn’t discriminate since the subtitles are offered in English. A musically driven film, from the arrangement to the articulation of script, Mark Dornford-May chose a different approach in order to express his view. Just think about the consequences that tuberculosis imposes in a musician who needs enough air to sing.

In the film, Lungelo Silwana and his queen Lusanda ‘Mimi’ Ndlanzi face the hardship of keeping up with Life. After getting expelled from varsity for chaos and being rebellious, Lungelo and Mimi are drawn back to the reality of shacking together and being jobless. They eventually find it difficult to make money to buy food with and get a decent place to stay in. The saddest part is that they even encounter the difficulty of getting proper medication for Mimi’s health as she battles tuberculosis. This results in the movie ending in a sad note as Mimi dies from the disease.

One would expect a film like Breathe to stage in a local theatre, so it was very creative for Mark to suggest the locations that he suggested for the film. It is good that there are directors and producers out there who are still willing to make films based on issues that are really affecting South Africa as a country rather than following the latest trends like actions films comedy, etc. Although a story with a sad ending, Breathe is very interesting and informative film that serves as a window of what people suffering from tuberculosis endure.

 

Mnqobi Duma is a Media student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has love for film making, especially the technical side of it. As a hobby I’m into Web Development and Management.

 

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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