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Review - Film - Travellers' tale

Africa United

Director: Debs Gardner-Paterson

Starring: Eriya Ndayambaje, Emmanuel Jal, Leleti Khumalo

Out now on DVD

Cert: 12

Rating: 45

Africa United is a funny and uplifting story of three children's journey from Rwanda to South Africa to get to the World Cup. It touches on many of the issues of concern in African countries: for example, education, horrors of wars and HIVAids. Yet it is still a heart-warming and touching film.

This story begins in Rwanda, where teenager Fabrice longs to pursue his ambition of becoming a football legend. When he is offered the chance to audition for the opening ceremony, he sets off for Rwandan capital Kigali with his "manager" Dudu and Dudu's sister Beatrice.

However, when they take the wrong bus and end up in Congo, they decide to make the 3,000-mile journey to Johannesburg anyway. On the journey, they have help from an ex-child soldier and encounter a number of problems in Rwanda, Congo, Burundi, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

They also encounter wild animals, a gang of feral children, disease and the challenge of crossing borders. Beatrice ends up in a school, Fabrice pursues his dream and Dudu becomes a victim of HIV.

The experience of watching this film reminded me of Slumdog Millionaire and I was surprised and happy at the wonderful mixture of live action and animation. I am 10 years old and I want to know all about HIVAids and child soldiers.

It is a great film. I am doing my best to spread the news of what a good family film this is. It will also be great to show to pupils who lack cultural awareness.

James Mvule, 10, Heatherbrook Primary School, Leicester

Rating: 45

Africa United tells the amazing story of three children from Rwanda who set out for the country's capital, Kigali, to audition for the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Cup. Dudu, his sister Beatrice and his best friend and rising football star Fabrice, catch a bus to what they think is Kigali, but instead find themselves in the Congo.

With no papers, they end up in a refugee camp, where, knowing they have missed the trials, they make the decision to travel to Johannesburg for the opening ceremony instead with the help of their newest recruit, Foreman George.

The film follows the children on their 3,000-mile trip through seven countries, meeting the final member of their team, Celeste, along the way. They face many difficult obstacles, including the perils of "wild Africa" and gun-wielding gang members, while showing optimism, ingenuity and determination in pursuit of their dreams.

The idea for this film came from producer Eric Kabera's desire to tell new stories about his continent. A fantastic team, including director Debs Gardner-Paterson, making her feature film debut, manage to create a heart-warming, comical and endearing film while dealing with real issues facing children in Africa.

It is incredible to think that none of the five children chosen as lead roles had ever acted on screen before, notably Eriya Ndayambaje, whose comical portrayal of Dudu had me in stitches throughout. These child actors have bright futures.

I loved this film. It is a feel-good film that debuts many incredibly talented actors, whose enthusiasm and optimism is infectious. It depicts the Africa that few people have ever had the privilege to see, through the most beautiful photography and obvious careful planning from the crew before filming began. Expect laughter, tears, suspense and joy. A story of hope, generosity and perseverance in the face of adversity to be enjoyed by all the family.

Catherine Davies, Filmclub leader, Heatherbrook Primary School, Leicester

Filmclub, an educational charity supported by Lovefilm, sets up after-school clubs where children meet to watch, discuss and review thought-provoking films. Each week members of Filmclub will review everything from new releases to classic and world cinema. Free to state schools. Find out more at www.filmclub.orgregister



Director: Thor Freudenthal

Starring: Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Rachael Harris

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray

Cert: PG

Rating: 25

Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a stereotypical American middle-school comedy, dealing with the themes of friendship and family. Zachary Gordon plays the main character Greg Heffley. He is a kid with high hopes for the future, who has to survive the many obstacles in his way when he starts a new school.

The film is based on the book by Jeff Kinney and the opening scene reminds us of this when we see the characters as the cartoons from the book. The black-and-white cartoons run briefly through the film and I found them far more entertaining than the live action. If you like this film genre you will probably enjoy Greg's adventures. I, however, found the comedy and the plot to be immature and predictable.

Zachary Gordon plays the wimpy kid of the title well, but he did not persuade me to sympathise with or like the character.

Courtney Priday, 10, Christ Church CofE Primary School, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset


Director: Luis Bunuel

Starring: Fernando Soler, Rosita Quintana, Victor Manuel Mendoza

Out now on DVD

Cert: 12

Rating: 45

Filmed in 1951 and directed by Luis Bunuel, Susana is a melodrama following Susana (Rosita Quintana) as she escapes from a reformatory and finds herself at the ranch of a wealthy Spanish family.

She hides the truth, and earns herself a place in the family as almost an adopted daughter. She has to work to stay there, despite the religious and superstitious maid's protests that she is "the devil" and that she will bring misfortune to the family.

Susana starts to manipulate and seduce the men of the ranch: Jesus, a worker, the head of the house and his adult son. She also intimidates and patronises the women of the house: the wife and mother - Carmen (Matilde Palou) and her maids.

Bunuel seems to enjoy rather than frown upon Susana's somewhat outrageous ways, however, in the end he encourages the enforcement of law.

Emily Harris, 14, Wey Valley School and Sports College, Weymouth, Dorset.

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