Eras interweave and reality shades into dream in Nayola, a drama that traces the legacy of the decades-long civil war in Angola. Based on the play Black Box by Jose Eduardo Agualusa and Mia Couto, two prominent writers from Portuguese-speaking Africa, the film follows the fortunes of three generations of women from a single family, including the title character.
Nayola, which was presented as a work in progress at Annecy last month, is the feature directorial debut of José Miguel Ribeiro, whose acclaimed shorts include the Cartoon d’Or winner A Suspeita. Ribeiro, who is Portuguese, strove to make the film true to the experiences of Angolans by visiting the country multiple times. After speaking to locals on his second visit, he reworked the animatic to incorporate their contributions.
Kimbundu, one of Angola’s official languages, is spoken in the film. The voice cast features non-professional actors, including a rapper and a spoken-word artist. Ribeiro talked movingly about working with one of the actors who is blind. He said a version of the film adapted for the visually impaired will be released in Portugal.