SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! We often think of an invasion of a country as one’s enemies crossing the border, but often, that invasion starts from within, and no one notices it until it is too late. Kantarama Gahigiri’s short film, Terra Mater, speaks to one such invasion of Kenya.
Terra Mater is a poetic short film that opens in a massive landfill. The landfill images just sit there and rest in silence for several minutes. As one image cuts to another, Kenyan citizens appear along with the herons—all scavengers. The subjects are half-dressed in landfill uniforms, and some wear headdresses made of electric circuits and technological scraps.
“…their stolen land, stripped of resources needed for everyday electronics.”
The spoken poem comprises words and phrases about their stolen land, stripped of resources needed for everyday electronics. The overarching theme is how the once rich, fertile, and sacred land is handed over to greedy capitalists, and little of its riches are returned to the people. How its people now hunt for precious metals, and how the country is being turned into a landfill.
The theme of Terra Mater is simple. In East Africa, the land is handed over to industrial colonizers (often to cover the country’s massive debts). With each acre torn to shred, the people, their heritage, and their future are now called to question whether it can ever return to the way it was.
Terra Mater is a hard-hitting poetic film about the tragedy and devastation happening halfway around the world. A tragedy that is silent and unseen by Western media. Though not stated in the world, this is often the cause of migrants fleeing their home countries in Africa. Awareness is critical as time is running out.
Terra Mater screened at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival.
"…a hard-hitting poetic film about the tragedy and devastation happening halfway around the world."