LIFE: A timeless study of village life in the remote highlands of North-west Angola is both intimate and humorous.
Nick Holdsworth
Nick Holdsworth
Our regular critic.
Published date: November 2, 2020

Portuguese producer and director Inês Ponte studied Visual Anthropology at Britain’s Manchester University and brings that background to this charming and intimate portrait of the day-to-day life of a family living on a small farm in Namibe in Angola’s remote highlands.

The film, based on the eight months Ponte lived in the village – a guest at the farmstead of farmers, Madukilaxi, her husband Omuxipungo, and children – reveals the way of life for people in an area where the long dry season (230 days without rain) forces a different pace of life.


Ponte, who is heard off-camera speaking the local language (we glimpse her only once in the closing credits in a still shot from behind, the youngest son of the family clinging to her back), is clearly accepted as one of the family and the village, in true social anthropology style.

The intimacy she has attained is evident in the clear adoration the family’s youngest boy has for her, who constantly calls for her and seeks her out, and the degree to which Madukilaxi is happy to order her to stop filming so to help with some task or other.

A simple story with little narrative structure is woven around the making of a traditional doll (a gift for Ponte that the youngest boy clearly covets, but is equally happy to be the one given the important task of presenting it to her).

The village, where cattle raising and …

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