Buladó: Voices of reason with a touch of mysticism

The island of Curaçao, where Buladó is set. (Photo: IMDb)
Buladó, A film recently screened at the 33rd European Film Festival in Jordan, represents two worldviews at odds with each other through a small family in the countryside of Curaçao. Kenza is an eleven-year-old girl who lives with her father, Ouira, and grandfather Weljo. The wayward child is caught between two worlds, that of rationality and that of mysticism. اضافة اعلان

In his film, director Eché Janga follows a refreshingly nontraditional heroine, the unsmiling, tough, and stubborn 11-year-old girl Kenza played by Tiara Richards, who gets in trouble at school and doesn’t seem to have friends.

Kenza sitting as her father does her hair. (Photo: IMDb)

Kenza struggles with her widower father Ouira, played by Everon Jackson Hooi, a local policeman who wants her to follow the rules, and finds herself drawn into the spiritual world of her grandfather, Weljo, played by Felix de Rooy, who still practices the rites passed down from the island’s slave ancestors.

Buladó is set in Bandabou, the wild west of Curaçao – the birth island of the father of filmmaker Eché Janga – and is not primarily about Weljo or Ouira but about Kenza. Set as a coming-of-age film, Kenza encounters a void she had not yet known.

There is a conflict at home between her orderly father, a highly rational police officer, and her grandfather, who is spiritual and feels particularly close to magic and its Caribbean roots.

Kenza tries to find a way to navigate these two extremes, exposing the differences between Dutch and Antillean culture

Buladó represents these two conflicting elements in the film using the beautiful form of magical realism to make this inner struggle tangible.

Finding Comfort

Weljo's mind is deteriorating. He is increasingly withdrawn into his own world, acting aggressively towards strangers and rarely doing anything other than drink and speak a confusing language amid his collection of scrap metal.

According to Ouira, it is time for the man with dementia to be admitted to a nursing home, where he can spend his last days in peace.

Weljo, on the other hand, feels the nearness of death and seeks contact with the spirits of his ancestors, who will show him the way to the realm of the dead. Then when the time is right, he will travel on the wings of the wind to be completely free again.

This scenario leads to the central discourse of the film. Where police officer Ouira presents observable facts, social rules, and demarcations. Yet, at the same time, Weljo believes that life and death, spirituality and reality constantly intertwine. Where Ouira answers to the voice of reason, Weljo listens to the voice of the wind.

Accompanied by Kenza’s age comes the difficulties of puberty. Kenza, curious about her mother, who passed away when she was born, finds no answers from her father.

As Kenza navigates her first period, she girl never knew her mother. This lack of a maternal figure becomes increasingly difficult for her to navigate, and her father, unaware of how to assist, offers no support.

At school, Kenza is trouble. She skips school quite a lot and she is also often involved in quarrels at school.

While she’s seemingly uninterested in school, her grandfather fascinates her. He constantly has a bottle of alcohol in his hand but is full of beautiful stories about their ancestors and ghosts.

The power of wind

The film opens with a beautifully poetic account of the wind, with shots of clouds moving at great speed over the island. On the island, the wind is an ever-present and fascinating element.

The air currents take on an extra mystical charge because it also becomes a means of communicating with ancestral spirits, and as the wind changes, so does the spiritual meaning.

The beautiful colors – especially green and blue – splash off the screen, yet it is far from joyful. Instead, the film emphasizes the dichotomy between physical beauty and emotional significance, for it navigates beautiful scenery with heavy emotions.

The film balances on the ethereal and dreamy, partly due to the spiritual grandfather. The struggle that Kenza has to fight to find her way is accurately depicted for ac coming of age story. She learns from both and finds her way.

Sometimes the story is too quick and easy in its choices, but wit makes a lot of sense ithin the 86 minutes of the film.

The sadness is evident. The question of missing something you’ve never had is questioned consistently, and death is a recurring theme. Incidentally, the music and the beautiful nature are also worth mentioning. The latter is emphasized in the impressive way of filming

The acting also elevated the experience, especially Everon Jackson Hooi’s performance, which you may also know as Bing in Good Times Bad Times.

The film takes us back to the age-old question that has been told raised for a long time, the heart versus the head.

The story of Kenza shows us how she learns to deal with her grief and navigates both reason and magic, and finds her journey between the two.

The magical realism and poetry present in the film are rare in Dutch cinema and a welcome enrichment in the film world.

The actors and the setting

The clashing opposites of reason and logic versus mystical traditions of the island are the common thread in the film. But the stories and myths are also important.

The film is personal to Janga due to its familial relation, but it was also a challenge for Jackson Hooi because it takes place on his native island.

Kenza, the unsmiling, tough, and stubborn 11-year-old girl protagonist. (Photo: IMDb)

The young Tiara Richards as Kenza is a golden find. With her brutal side and fearlessness, but also her vulnerable side, she acts wonderfully. Finally, Felix de Rooy, an artist, and director, is masterful as the mystical and philosophical grandfather.

Eché Janga graduated from the Dutch Film Academy in 2010 and launched his debut with Helium (2014), a drama with mystical and philosophical elements. The film won two Golden Calves.

Janga is experienced in portraying more prominent themes through specific, well-thought-out scenarios that present us with this mystical reality in Buladó, similar to his work in his short film Mo (2010) and his feature film debut Helium (2014).

Buladó is his second major feature film. For a long time, he was unsure about filming and telling this story on Curaçao. His parents may come from Curaçao and the Antilles, but he is not from there himself. But he was embraced on the island by the locals.

With Buladó, Janga is one of the few Dutch filmmakers to situate a story in a former colony and to reflect on the past through the present time.

This makes his coming-of-age story about a Curaçaoan girl a reasonably unique project. A few years ago, there was a film adaptation of “Double Play,” the famous book by Frank Martinus Arion, but it was directed by an American, and it was in English.

He and Esther Duysker co-wrote Buladó. It is a story about holding on and letting go and about three generations that need each other to take the next step.

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