Servant of the Ancestors | Chicago Reader

Servant of the Ancestors

Australian documentarian Malla Nunn follows her mother back to the family's ancestral homestead in Swaziland and records a tribal ceremony meant to placate the spirits of the mother's dead brother and parents. This 1998 film gives a fascinating account of racial prejudice and hypocrisy in a country long governed by South Africa; both of Nunn's parents passed for white, but the mother openly embraced her black relatives, and in late middle age she's decided to reclaim her African roots despite her husband's unease. Nunn lets her likable, effusive mother do much of the talking as she visits relatives, grave sites, and a prophet who builds her a straw hut to house the spirits. What emerges is a sincere account of a woman coming to peace with a confused, unpleasant past. 52 min.


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