Film Review: ‘Baxu and the Giants’

Director: Florian Schott
Screenplay: Florian Schott & Girley Jazama
Cast: Camilla Jo-Ann Daries, Wafeeq /Narimab, Anna Louw, Robert Hara#gaeb, West Uarije, Steven Afrikaner, Ashwyn Mberi

Rating: ★★★★

If you were worried Baxu and the Giants is an overhyped, terrible film, don’t be, because  Baxu and the Giants is a remarkable short film that lives up to its expectation.

Camilla Jo-Ann Daries and Wafeeq /Narimab in Baxu and the Giants. (Image: Baxu and the Giants)

This emotional 29-minute long short film directed by Florian Schott follows 9-year old !ubaxu (Camilla Jo-Ann Daries), who lives in impoverished Damaraland with her alcoholic grandmother (Anna Louw) and older brother Khata (Wafeeq /Narimab). Khata is offered a ‘golden’ opportunity involving rhino poaching by his neighbour (Robert Hara#gaeb). Khata affords his family an easier lifestyle by being involved in rhino poaching.

When looking at the synopsis, one could more or less predict the ending to Baxu and the Giants, however, the film has a sincerity challenging us not to dismiss it, thanks largely to exceptional acting capabilities by its charming 10-year-old lead, Daries and her co-stars and the film’s production value. Daries literally breaks into her first role by delivering her character with the contentment, empathy and curiosity of a child, which allows her to effectively bring out the emotional core of the film.

Camilla Jo-Ann Daries and Anna Louw in Baxu and the Giants (Image: Baxu and the Giants)

While allowing us to witness the daily reality of rhino poaching, Schott and his co-writer Girley Jazama moulded the characters of Baxu and the Giants into real people who are easily identifiable and not just plothole fillers. Baxu’s deep relationship with wildlife is highlighted through recurring dreams Baxu has of King Rhino (voiced by Ashywn Mberi) warning her about her brother’s wrongdoing. These moments are perfectly devised in live-action animation.

Director of Photography Kit Hoffmann and Editor Robert Scott made sure the film delivers good camera and editing work from the opening with an epic cross-cut scene of the time of the hunter-gatherers falling in-sync with prehistoric rock paintings, leading up to the very end.

With the most interior scenes shot in Windhoek, set design by Tanya Stroh convincingly helped in telling the story of a poor north-western Namibia household. Despite some inept acting moments from conversations between Khata and Baxu, Baxu and the Giants is a good quality short film with a positive message.

The film is produced by Andrew Botelle and executively produced by Willem Odendaal (Legal Assistance Namibia).

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