World Cinema Amsterdam | Internationaal filmfestival | 18 – 27 Augustus 2016

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Shirley Adams

Oliver Hermanus | South Africa | 2009 | 92' | English, Afrikaans spoken, Dutch subtitles


Shirley Adams
is an intimate and moving story that sheds light on the issues of poverty and violence in todays South Africa. The title character, impressively played by Denise Newman, is a single woman who cares for her handicapped teenage son, Donovan, who was seriously injured in a shooting and has since had great physical and mental problems.

Shirley is getting close to the end of her tether: caring for her son exhausts her, and her meager income is not enough to pay the medical bills. Although close to a breakdown, she clings on to her strength and optimism for the sake of her son, who has lost sight of any enjoyment of life. The proposed solution comes in the form of a social worker. The enthusiastic Tamsin initially manages to cheer Donovan up, but her naive idealism clashes with Shirleys daily grind. In the meantime, Shirley receives new information about the shooting. Information she decides not to share with her son. The camera keeps very close to the characters; in many scenes, it sits looking over Shirleys shoulder. Oliver Hermanus thereby creates a viewpoint that is both intimate and claustrophobic, and makes the rising tension palpable.

Monday 16 August, 07.00 PM, Rialto
Tuesday 17 August, 04.30 PM, Rialto