I had the opportunity to watch a screening of the brilliant film ‘While We Live’ at the African Diaspora Film Festival this past Saturday. I purposely chose to watch this film precisely because it is a Swedish film with English subtitles. (Yes, I am a foreign language film nerd who believes this is great way to learn 2 or 3 new words in another language). Well, I learned the word ‘tack’, which happens to mean ‘thank you’ and is a pretty useful word to learn in my opinion!
This film was directed by Dany Kouyaté, set in Sweden and the Gambia. It is a film about identity. Kandia, an African women in her fifties who has lived in Sweden for 30 years, decides to move back to Gambia. Her son Ibrahim, who dreams of a career in hip hop and is about to make a break through, goes follows her. Their encounter with their homeland, however, doesn’t turn out the way they imagined. It is a heart warming story of family and soul searching.
The striking sub-theme for me was the concept of homelands and remembering who we are. The leas actress Kandia had lived in Sweden for a long time, spoke fluent Swedish but her son who was born to a Swedish father identified more as Swedish than Gambian. In this globalized world we live in, I think this is question many people who live in foreign lands have. According to Kandia – ‘even if a log falls into a river and stays there for many years, it will never turn into a crocodile.” As much as a person adapts and becomes a part of the new country he/she finds herself, homelands are forever a part of the ties that bind humanity.
During the Q&A the Director mentioned that the film would show at upcoming film festivals in Paris and Burkina Faso. Definitely worth a watch!