‘Djon Africa’, an invitation to reflect on the importance of one’s origins

João Miller Guerra

10/24/2018.- Documentary filmmakers Filipa Reis and João Miller Guerra make their fictional debut with Djon Africa, the story of a young Rastafarian who sets out on a journey from the suburbs of Lisbon to Cape Verde, where his family comes from, in search for his origins. «This film reflects on all those European people whose ancestors come from countries in other continents and who never come to feel they belong to any place in particular», explained Miller Guerra at the 63rd Valladolid International Film Festival, Seminci, in whose Official Section the film competes. «The central character feels like a foreigner both in his ancestors’ country and in the country where he has lived all his life», said the director. 

The film’s protagonist, Miguel Moreira, can easily relate to this story. As the director pointed out, «this story is very similar to his, because he doesn’t know his father». «In fact, the production company went to great lengths so that I could find him. They looked for him in different places in Cape Verde, but they were unable to find him in the end», he added. Moreira, who had previously worked with Reis and Miller Guerra in several documentaries, is not a professional actor, same as part of the artistic team. The film resembles a road movie.

The figure of the protagonist’s grandmother is ever-present, reflecting the prominent role given to women in the film. As Miller Guerra pointed out, «the rest of the female characters amplify the support he gets from her». Music also plays a significant role, as does Vasco Viana’s photography, which shows the viewer an entire continent in images far removed from your typical postcards.

Posted in 63rd Edition, Official Section.