THE screening and ensuing discussion of the multi-award winning feature film The Forgotten Kingdom, at Alliance Française hall on Wednesday night, elicited a barrage of criticism of the movie, mostly from local film-makers and producers.
The Alliance Française de Maseru and Embassy of the United States of America in Lesotho initiative was spurred by the global interest the film garnered since its release and meant to give another chance to those who have not yet seen the film.
Viewers in the fully packed hall applauded the The Forgotten Kingdom’s cinematography and how it captured Lesotho’s beautiful landscape justifying the country’s description as the Switzerland of Africa.
The discussion session, facilitated by Mantsopa Communications Director Limpho Mokhochane, was, however, less adulatory with the film on the receiving end of some stinging criticism.
While some in the crowd hailed the film for putting Lesotho in the spotlight at the world stage, others felt it reinforced negative stereotypes about the African continent in general and Lesotho in particular.
Some of the local film-makers said they felt insulted by the reference to The Forgotten Kingdom as Lesotho’s first ever feature film, which they said was not factual.
Their other gripe with the film was that most of the cast was drawn from South Africa yet there are so many talented actors in the country.
Others said they were incensed with the depiction of Lesotho as a society which does not believe people with HIV/AIDS can live productive lives. Furthermore, they averred, The Forgotten Kingdom projects Lesotho as a backwater place without any modern infrastructure, thus sending the wrong message to the rest of the world about the country.
In response to the issues raised, Mokhochane said the film’s director, Andrew Mudge, had come all the way from the United States to tell the story of the fimmakers’ own country yet there were there. She added that since they had noticed the errors in the movie, the ball was in their court to tell their story, as they know better.
The Forgotten Kingdom was shot and produced in Lesotho and South Africa and stars well-known actors from the two countries.
The film has won awards in Europe and Africa, including the Best Child Actor, Best Cinematography and the Best Achievement in Sound awards at the Africa Movie Academy Awards held in Yenagoa, Nigeria in May this year.