Pili, Dir. Leanne Welham, United Kingdom / Tanzania, 2018, 81 mins, Swahili with English subtitles
Set in Miono, a village near the Tanzanian coast, this social-realist drama follows Pili, a mother working for very little money clearing fields. Pili is struggling – her husband left after learning of her HIV-positive status, and she is trying to keep her status secret to ward off potential stigma from her community. She takes a bus to visit the clinic in a neighbouring village rather than risk attending one closer. When Pili learns that a kiosk is opening in her village, she tries to raise the money to rent it and fulfil her dream of selling beauty products. But materialising her dream requires hard and potentially damaging choices.
Pili is the result of a collaboration between the filmmakers, Leanne Welham and debut director and producer Professor Sophie Harman, with women in Miono, Tanzania. With most of the ensemble cast non-actors and some HIV-positive, the film tells a deeply embedded story. Gripping performances and stunning cinematography by Craig Dean Devine (Define Gender: Victoria Sin) compliment the script, which was developed based on interviews with 85 HIV-positive women from the Pwani region of Tanzania.