South Africa's Little One pulls at the heart

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      A new South African film called Little One accomplishes a rare feat of emotional complexity. About a six-year-old girl who was raped, beaten, and left for dead, it’s hear-trending, but often very warm.

      That dichotomy makes for a beautiful story thanks to the on-screen relationship between the movie's two protagonists, Pauline, a poor merchant played by Lindiwe Ndlovu, and “Little One”, portrayed by Vuyelwa Msimang.

      Pauline finds the young girl in a field where she was left bloody and unconscious. She takes her to a hospital and saves Little One’s life. But the girl is left badly scarred, both physically and emotionally.

      Through a long recovery, the two slowly come to relate to one another as a mother and daughter. Their tender exchanges illustrate how love can emerge from tragedy.

      On the telephone from Los Angeles, producer Anton Ernst revealed the secret of that chemistry.

      “There was a relationship between the lead actress and the little girl already there,” he explained. “They knew each other from before. She’s actually the daughter of Ndlovu’s neighbour.”

      Ernst added that it was Msimang’s first time in front of a camera.

      “There was a bond already between those two people,” he continued. “And we believe that that bond was the powerful thing that we needed to bring home the emotional journey of the main character.” 

      Little One, South Africa’s nominee for the 2013 Academy Award for best foreign language film, will have its world premiere this Sunday night (April 14) as the closer for the Vancouver South Africa Film Festival. The VSAFF is screening a total of 10 films this weekend (April 13 and 14) at the Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts (149 West Hastings).

      You can follow Travis Lupick on Twitter at