2005 | Distant Horizon/Videovision Entertainment Production, in association with Anant Singh, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, M-Net Exciting Film, and National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa, in association with HBO Films
As the name of the central character as well as the film’s title, the familiar word Yesterday is filled with irony. For it is not the past, but each present day and each look toward tomorrow that informs this work. As we follow Yesterday through her daily routines, struggling to raise her daughter, Beauty, we recognize her great strength. Her dignity remains undiminished even when she discovers that she carries the HIV virus. Rather than focusing on the negative aspects of her life in rural South Africa, Yesterday lives in the hope of being with her daughter on her first day of school and is able to do so. Yesterday, the film, presents the socioeconomic, political, and cultural repercussions of AIDS at the most basic individual level. These difficult circumstances unfold within the extraordinarily beautiful South African landscape and the gentle rhythms of Yesterday’s rural life. Much of the power of this film derives from the elegance of the cinematography, from director of photography Michael Brierley, its editorial pacing from Avril Beukes, production design by Tiann van Tonder, and a marvelous score by Madala Kunene. That power is also the result of brilliant performances by Leleti Khumalo as Yesterday, seven-year-old Lihle Mvelase as Beauty, Kenneth Kambule as Yesterday’s husband, John, Harriet Lehabe as the Teacher, and Camilla Walker as the Doctor. Yesterday is spoken entirely in the Zulu language, a first for an internationally released major production. Yesterday reflects the efforts of executive producers Sanjeev Singh and Sudhir Pragjee in cooperation with producers Anant Singh and Helena Spring, all of whom have distinguished backgrounds in indigenous film production. Director and writer Darrell James Roodt took on the task assigned to him by the Nelson Mandela Foundation hoping to convey his own insight into the issues facing his native country. For presenting a compassionate and hopeful exploration of personal courage in the struggle against the AIDS pandemic, Yesterday receives a Peabody Award.
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