Directed by: #AnthonyNti
Written by: #ChingizKaribekov and Anthony Nti
At first glance, one may feel Anthony Nti’s film emulates City of God a bit too much; from opening scenes of chasing chickens, children viewing the world around them through cameras, and the thematic power of innocence surviving in a corrupt world. It’s an easy comparison to make but Da Yie’s presentation in cinematography, direction and performance has it stand on its own merit with great success. Nti and co-writer Chingiz Karibekov focus the film on the friendship of Prince and Matilda, two children living in Ghana who go on a day trip with a stranger ‘Bogah’. As the trip unfolds the tranquillity and life lessons are revealed to be a cover for something far more sinister.
Nti assembles the films verisimilitude with incredible fidelity, Da Yie through Pieter-Jan Claessens’ rich cinematography makes it feel like a direct lens straight into Ghana. Nothing feels artificial or staged as Nti and Claessens have the scenes brimming with wonder and dread as you watch Prince and Matilda’s journey. The two child actors Prince Agortey and Matilda Enchil give brilliant, layered performances especially Agortey who’s issues of self-confidence allow for more introspective storytelling. Matilda is the confident assertive one always pushing Prince into changing his status quo, they are both kids curiously seeking what the world has to offer but at their own paces. Which is what draws them to the cool but enigmatic Bogah, he offers them adventure out of their usual ways of life and the two accept.
Goua Robert Grovogui’s performance as Bogah along with Nti’s direction of the character excellently lures the characters and audience into his charms that you don’t even realise how dangerous the situation has become until its too late. Grovogui makes Bogah that stylish elegant mentor every kid would want guiding there way, he seems to genuinely care for Prince and Matilda’s wellbeing, encouraging Matilda’s enthusiasm and supporting Prince. The relationship initially reminded me of the dynamics in Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight between Juan and young Chiron and it makes the subsequent reveals heartbreaking and has the audience second guess everything they have now seen. All leading to a tense and tragic climax still maintained through the perspective of Prince and Matilda, Nti always keeping focused on how their innocence could survive within the world around them.
Its harsh reality presented within beautiful imagery, everything about Da Yie impresses. Visually, thematically, and emotionally Anthony Nti and his team of talented filmmakers deliver an engrossing cinematic experience.