Namibia Submits Feature Film for Academy Awards Consideration

Namibia is crossing its fingers for this year’s Academy Awards with its first-ever submission to the international feature film category.

The Namibia International Feature Film Awards Selection Committee has selected the 2023 film ‘Under the Hanging Tree’ to represent the country at the prestigious Oscars in March next year.

To be eligible for the Oscars, non-English feature-length films must have hit theatres in their home countries between 1 December 2022 and 31 October 2023.

The anticipation will reach its peak on 21 December later this year when the shortlist of 15 finalists is unveiled. On 23 January 2024 the final five nominees will be announced.

‘Under the Hanging Tree’, starring Girley Jazama as a resilient police officer, revolves around a perplexing case she has been assigned to in a remote Namibian desert town.

According to Poiyah media, the lead character’s usual by-the-book approach proves futile in solving a bizarre series of livestock theft incidents scattered across a German farmer’s property.

Things take a chilling turn when the farmer, Gustav Fischer, is discovered hanging from an ancient Omumborombonga tree, while his wife, Eva, remains ominously impassive, smiling at a home filled with sacrificial offerings.

The ‘supernatural noir’, set in modern Namibia, promises suspense and mystique.

Producer Perivi Katjavivi shares how the film borrows from deep knowledge of Herero mythology and the Omumborombonga tree, which holds a profound place in the culture’s creation mythology, and the legacy of the genocide in the early 1900s.

The film made its debut at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in January before gracing Namibian cinemas in September.

It took the spotlight as the closing-night film at the Namibia Film Commission’s Film Week 2023.

This gripping tale also found its way to the international stage, with screenings at various festivals in the United States, Peru, Brazil, Switzerland and Germany.

The film is the result of collaboration, funded by the Namibia Film Commission and featuring a talented cast alongside Jazama, including Dawie Engelbrecht, Roya Diehl and the late David Ndjavera.

Katjavivi, the creative mastermind behind this cinematic gem, wrote, directed and produced ‘Under the Hanging Tree’ for Old Location Films, while Renier de Bruyn was the director of photography.

‘Under the Hanging Tree’ is a remarkable testament to Namibia’s burgeoning film industry and its ability to captivate audiences on a global scale.

– Anne Hambuda is a poet, writer and social commentator. Follow her online or email her for more.

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