Lakutshon’ Ilanga (When the Sun Sets)

A short film by director Phumi Morare based on a true story that is close to her heart. It is a story of triumph during a time of oppression. The film is inspired by Morare’s mom and her life. It examines the violence that blacks in South Africa faced during the apartheid. You can feel the passion that the director/writer instills in each frame of the 14 minute film.

In 1985 a young black nurse Lerato (Zikhona Bali) living under apartheid in South Africa has her worst fears become reality. One day she discovers that her younger brother, who is a known activist, is in danger. The fact that he does not return home one day after school clues her into this.

Lerato sees a police van and fears the worst. She calls attention to herself by confronting the police officers. Would her gigantic risk be enough or worth it?

A big part of the significance of the film is that it is told through a woman’s eyes. We get the female perspective of what it was like to live through apartheid for blacks. We witness the courage it took on the part of the young woman to save her brother from being taken by the police. Probably never to be seen again. Amazing that this soft-spoken woman had it within herself to stand up against several white and armed policemen. So important that black women see themselves represented on screens; that their stories – big and small – are being told. That the contributions of black women around the world are not overlooked. That these representations feel authentic.

Despite the subject matter, the story here is not politicized. Rather it is presented as a human tale. This is how Morare draws you in. You see the humanity of a single woman. That she was willing to risk physical harm or even death to save a member of her family. That family is what is important, no matter where you are on the planet.

The short, which is Morare’s Master’s thesis film, has been Oscar shortlisted for an Academy Award in the Live Action Short Film category.

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