LFF Review: Nayola

While it clearly had its benefits, colonialism was a blight on the African continent and continues to be so. Although independence began a new chapter in their history for many countries, it often led to a renewed period of turmoil. Angola, for instance, was thrown into civil war as soon as they threw off the shackles of Portuguese rule. A power struggle for the control of the country which lasted over twenty-five years. Nayola tells a family story which is grounded in this conflict.

Yara (Feliciana Délcia Guia) grows up in a modern world where everything is at the touch of her fingers and yet her possibilities are limited due to her gender. She wants to be a rapper but this rubs up against the prevailing ideology of the authorities. In 1995, her mother Nayola (Elisângela Rita) vanished whilst trying to find her father, a missing soldier. One day, a stranger in a jackal mask turns up at her grandma’s (Vitória Adelino Dias Soares) house and puts all their lives in danger.

Nayola is a moving animation which tracks three generations of women and the impact the war has on their lives. Whilst it decimated Angola for decades, peace didn’t suddenly mean the country blossomed into a picture-perfect democracy. José Miguel Ribeiro’s film is impeccably made, featuring some inventive and beautiful animation. Nayola tells a personal story about the damage conflict has on the lives of ordinary people.  

Nayola screens at London Film Festival.

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