Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mandisa (2012) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Mandisa Madikane is 21 years old. She's lean, strong, intense and confident. She's also HIV positive as a result of being raped when she was six years old. Already a veteran of TV media, she's an assured first time director, using interviews with her relatives and neighbours to tell her story.
Although rape is a common subject in film, it's rare to see it approached entirely from a female perspective, rarer still to see a survivor telling her own story. Despite an unfortunately sentimental soundtrack, the style of the film is very direct. Mandisa talks plainly about the way she felt after it happened and her grandmother recounts the changes in her behaviour, notably the anger she expressed. Because it's discussed at this distance, the film avoids the risk of loss of audience sympathy that might go with presenting a difficult child directly, and invites viewers to think more carefully before they write off such children.
Most importantly, Mandisa's film challenges the stigma that attaches to rape victims in South Africa (and elsewhere in the world). The plainness of her account leaves little room for victim blaming and also avoids salaciousness. Others speak about the culture within the police force that used to make it difficult for victime to come forward and be believed. There's an implication that this is changing - it would have been interesting to know more, and probably the film's biggest weakness is its lack of contextual material, but it is of course important to keep viewers focused on Mandisa's experience itself.
Simple but effective, Mandisa's film conveys an important message and illustrates significant talent which one can only hope she lives long enough to make more use of. She's a fine role model for people who've been raped and her clear voice also effectively challenges stereotypes about working class people from Soweto.Reviewed on: 13 Jun 2012