Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mma Ramotswe Movie: The Funeral is Fake, But the Tears Are Real

source: Time
Monday, Aug. 20, 2007 By ALEX PERRY

By my count, we've mourned Obed Ramotswe 12 times this morning, and I'm not the only one feeling slightly overcome. His daughter, Precious, has cried her way through 12 renditions of the Botswanan funeral spiritual "Your Yoke Is Light To Carry," and when I approach her, she tearfully waves me away, saying: "I have to stay where I am." Several members of the congregation also look like they can't go on. Even the Western PR executive next to me, a veteran of hundreds of scenes like this, tells me she's finding the whole thing "really quite moving."

It's Day 30 on the 50-day shoot of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, based on the best-selling novel series by Alexander McCall Smith. One of the watchwords of the production is authenticity, which has led director Anthony Minghella to shoot the film in Botswana — a first for this tiny southern African nation — and to involve its people as much as possible. Today's scene is the culmination of months of talks with the villagers of Gabane, 15km (10 miles) outside the capital, Gaborone. First they had to be asked for permission for a film to be made on their land. Then they needed to be told that the particular scene Minghella wanted to shoot there was a funeral. And then, of course, they had to be persuaded to show up as extras.

The negotiations were handled by Bakang "B.K." Bala, a molecular biologist and sometime safari guide who is acting as cultural advisor to Minghella. According to the traditional Batswana khotla system, he made a presentation to the village chiefs, then [continue reading]

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