Paris slips by behind glass in the opening shots of Bantú Mama. It illustrates a separation between Emma (Clarisse Albrecht), a French-Cameroonian woman, and her life in the city, a loneliness and a liminality that does not subside on a trip she takes to a resort in Santo Domingo. She is arrested by airport security, and a different border is crossed as she finds herself escaping into the bright night of a dangerous barrio, and into the wayward paths of three children who live there. $hulo (Arturo Perez), T.I.N.A (Scarlet Reyes) and Cuki (Euris Javiel) have no parental figures, and it is never quite clear whether they take in, or are taken in, by Emma. The division between the characters and their history begins to wear thin, symbolised by their curtains that float on the breeze, but their little family is vulnerable. Emma must not go outside.
Albrecht worked with director Ivan Herrera on the screenplay, and has stated that their relationship as children of the diaspora, she as an Afro-European and he as a Dominican, served as inspiration for the film. In its warm exploration of motherhood, too, Bantú Mama is a story of roots, both young and ancient.
‘A soul-stirring and tender ode to the Black diaspora’ - Marjua Estevez, Okay Africa.
‘An emotional and beautiful film experience’ - Ellen J. Wanjiru, Black Film.
‘A song of love about Santo Domingo, a melancholic reverie of maternal affection, love blossoming in times of strife’ - Cláudio Alves, The Film Experience.