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VENICE 2013 Critics’ Week

White Shadow, albinos’ plight in Tanzania


- Artist Noaz Deshe put his name to a promising directing debut. Actor Ryan Gosling, who is involved with various African causes, is the executive producer

White Shadow, albinos’ plight in Tanzania

“White shadows” that do not die, but disappear, killed and resold to witches who use them to create magic potions. With White Shadow [+see also:
interview: Noaz Deshe
film profile
, in competition during Critics’ Week, artist Noaz Deshe put his name to a promising director’s debut on the plight of albinos in Tanzania.

Produced by Ginevra Elkann for Asmara Films with Shadoworks, Mocajo Film in coproduction with Chromosom Filmproduktion, French Exit, Phantasma Films, Real2Reel and actor Ryan Gosling, involved in various African causes, who took on the role of executive producer, White Shadow is the story of Alias, a fleeing albino boy. After witnessing his father’s murder, he is sent to his mother to seek refuge in the city. His uncle Kosmos, a lorry driver who makes ends meet through small deals here and there, takes care of him. Alias is forced to grow up fast in the city. He sells sunglasses, DVDs and cell phones on the street.

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“I wrote the story together with James Masson in very little time,” the director said. “We didn’t want to make a documentary, but a feature film with a boy as the main character who is fighting with every part of his soul not to be defeated.” According to Deshe, the film raises a theme that is relevant all around the world. “This is what cinema is about.”

Shooting the film in the slums was not easy. “Many people walk around with machetes. But my approach was not a colonial one. I based everything on nature and on what was about to happen behind the camera.”

The encounter with the main actor Hamis Bazili was a fortuitous one. “I found the right intensity in him straight away. A boy with closed fists, as if he was holding his suffering in. In the film, tension remains high. One day, Hamis said to me: you don’t need to smile all the time to stay happy.”

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(Translated from Italian)

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