|Josephat in In the Shadow of the Sun|
IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN
2013, 85 minutes
Review by Joshua Handler
In the Shadow of the Sun is one of the more important documentaries to come along in recent years, as it highlights a major issue that is rarely, if ever, discussed in America: the hunting of albinos in Tanzania. Witchdoctors spread the idea that albino limbs would bring people wealth, so people have gone around killing albinos and/or taking their limbs, sometimes while the person is alive. In the Shadow of the Sun follows two albinos, Josephat and Vedastus. Josephat risks his life by going around Tanzania spreading awareness of this issue, and Vedastus simply wants to go to a regular school.
This film works so well because it allows us to get to know the subjects and creates a multi-dimensional portrait of them. By the end of the film, we feel as if we know these people well and it is thanks to director Harry Freeland. Freeland shows all sides of his subjects from their family lives to their school/work lives and explores their fears and desires. For a documentary like In the Shadow of the Sun to succeed, the documentarian must probe their subjects' thoughts and souls and this is what Freeland does brilliantly.
Most importantly of all, In the Shadow of the Sun raises awareness about a criminally overlooked issue. How is it that in this day and age, people could possibly believe that killing others for their limbs will bring them wealth? Lack of education. This is what Josephat wants to fix. His mission is to educate people on the truth about the myth of albino's limbs. The film also provides commentary on people's desperation to get rich. In In the Shadow of the Sun, a man is interviewed and he says to the camera that he would kill an albino to get rich. Albino children are shown with missing arms because people came and chopped them off. What kind of people would maim children? It is questions like these that this film asks and are what make it as thought-provoking and compelling as it is. There is never a dull moment either which makes viewing this documentary interesting.
Overall, In the Shadow of the Sun is a wonderful tribute to some courageous people and is a wakeup call to all of us. It is playing this evening at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival and tickets can be purchased here. People need to see this documentary and I cannot recommend it enough. It is the rare documentary that is important, but also a crowd-pleaser, as it has likable subjects and a triumphant ending that will give you chills.