Pili Review

An Astonishing Movie With An Incredible Message


These days, we can talk about almost everything: sexual preference, problems and even death.

However, do you remember the last time you had a talk about AIDS or HIV? Hopefully, most of us won’t ever need a talk about it but people who sadly need to, don’t want to talk about it because of the taboo.

With her most recent film Pili, Leanne Welham (Occupy, Castaway) wants to make us aware how many people are still struggling with the disease as well as telling the news to everyone around them.

Pili, Bello Rashid lives with her two children in the rural areas of Tanzania and just like most of the women there, she works on a farm for little as one dollar a day.

Despite the fact she doesn’t seem any different from anyone else, she sadly has to bare a secret. She has AIDS and is HIV positive.

Nobody knows about it, not even her children or her best friends. Coping with this all alone seems very hard for her.

She’s running out of money to pay for her medicine, blacks out more than once and her partner has left her right after she got the bad news she was HIV positive.

However, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel because a small kiosk in her village is up for rent. Pili is dreaming about buying it and selling beauty products.

There’s just one tiny problem. She doesn’t have the money for it. The only people who can help her are the Vikoka members, a group of women who make decisions about money, but they don’t seem very willing to help Pili.

One of the reasons is because she didn’t save the amount of money she needs to get a loan. With the business plan Pili made, she might be able to convince the members to give her the money.

Pili has been living towards the day of that decision. However, when she blacks out yet again, her dream day might turn into a nightmare.

She has to visit the doctor because of her illness but because she chooses a doctor outside her village (so that her secret can remain so), she might not make it in time for the final meeting of the Vikoka members regarding her loan.

What will she do? Will she still go to the doctor and take care of her health but give up her dream? Or will she skip the appointment to be able to go to the meeting but risk her health?

As you may have already noticed, Pili is a story that needs to be told because the topic is one that still affects a lot of people all over the world but which everyone seems to forget.

That’s exactly what Leanne Welham wants to deliver with her movie. To make her film even more powerful, she decided to base her movie on real life events and to make up the cast using non-actors of which 65% are HIV positive themselves.

They definitely know what’s like to live with disease, the secrets and the prejudice from the people around them. It must have been very hard for the actors to put their own lives out there for everyone to see but that’s what makes their performances even more real, incredibly believable and very moving.

If it was with different actors who didn’t have to go through the hard struggle with AIDS and HIV, the message of Pili wouldn’t be that loud for sure. Even in the quiet scenes, the emotions, the pain and uncertainty are very present.

Not only are the performances incredibly gripping but also the cinematography from Craig Dean Devine (The Entertainer, Define Gender: Victoria Sin) is amazing.

We feel the heat from Tanzania but we also get another reminder how hard life can be and that not everyone has the luxury of clean water, food or money.

It makes you realize that there are still people out there who fight everyday in a battle that no one ever should.

Together with the wonderful soundtrack provided by Tim Morrish, who was the scoring assistant from films such as Paddington 2 and Darkest Hour, the African vibe shines through.

We don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t watch Pili. It’s a movie that delivers a very strong message that needs to be heard by everyone.

The life-experience from the non-actors really adds a special but very important element to their performances.

Together with the cinematography and music, that both take us straight to rural Tanzania, Leanne Welham really transfers her message to the big screen and to the audience.

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