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PAFF 2015 Preview: Experimental Narrative ‘White Shadow’ Tackles Albinism in Tanzania

PAFF 2015 Preview: Experimental Narrative 'White Shadow' Tackles Albinism in Tanzania

In some parts of the world, people with albinism face social and cultural challenges (including threats to their lives), where the condition is a source of ridicule, discrimination, even fear and violence. Cultures around the world have developed beliefs regarding people with albinism. 
In Tanzania, for example, where this film is set, there has been what reports are calling an unprecedented rise in witchcraft-related killings of albino people in recent years, because their body parts are used in potions sold by witch-doctors. For example, news of killings of albino youth, and the severing of their body parts to sell to witch-doctors, aren’t so uncommon.
The president of the country (Jakaya Kikwete) has publicly and repeatedly condemned witch-doctors, their helpers and middlemen, and the clients, which include members of the police force, for these kinds of murders. He even ordered a crackdown on witch-doctors, while the Prime Minister declared war on albino hunters, revoking the licenses of all the country’s witch-doctors who use the body parts. Also the police have been ordered to generate lists of albinos in the country, in order to provide special protection for them.
We’ve covered documentaries that directly tackle the issue, in recent years, including director Camilla Magid’s “White Black Boy,” which looks at Shida, a boy with albinism in Tanzania, during his first year enrolled in a boarding school, where he can be watched over and kept safe from harm; and director Harry Freeland’s “In The Shadow Of The Sun,” which was filmed over six years, and tells the story of 2 men with albinism in Tanzania pursuing their dreams in the face of virulent prejudice. 
In terms of fictional narratives on the subject, screening at the upcoming Pan African Film Festival is director Noaz Deshe’s “White Shadow,” which is executive produced by Ryan Gosling.
In short, the experimental film tells the story of Alias, a young Albino boy in Tanzania, whose attempts at living a better, peaceful life, are at risk by this haunt for his organs. 
The film, which won the Lions Of The Future award at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, and was also in the World Narrative competition at last year`s Sundance Film Festival, continues to travel the festival/screening series circuit, with a next stop at the PAFF in Los Angeles, set for Sunday, February 8 at 8:55pm, and Wednesday, February 11 at 6pm.

The festival runs from February 5 to 15. For more info, click here.

Watch a trailer below for “White Shadow.”

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