Harry Freeland’s documentary In The Shadow Of The Sun is a portrait of hope in a desperate situation. All too often we see images and hear stories of cruelty to animals. Poachers continue to hunt Rhinos and Elephants for their ivory driving these species into extinction. It’s not often that we hear of the same behavior against a group of human beings. The hunting, dismembering, mutilation and murder of albinos living in Tanzania is the subject of this terrifying and powerful film.
The film follows two young men who are both dealing with their albinism in their own separate fashion. Josephat Torner is introduced as he makes the conscious decision to confront communities where there has been an escalation in murders of people with Albinism. His mission is to educate and change society’s ideas of what it means to be an albino.
Through Josephat’s story we learn that the powerful Witch Doctors throughout Tanzania have long spread rumors that the limbs and blood of an albino can bring wealth and power to the average citizen. This inspires the poor segment of the population, who are without education, to hunt and dismember albinos in an effort to improve their own lives. The other young man we meet is 15-year-old Vedastus. Vedastus is the victim of severe bullying at school, to the point where he was forced to withdraw from classes for fear that the other children would hurt, or possibly even kill him. Vedastus’ dream is to return to school and gain an education the field of electric engineering. Josephat becomes a mentor for Vedastus and the two do their part to deter the superstition and prejudice that exists around albinism in Tanzania.
Peppered with some frighteningly real images of severed limbs and murdered Albinos, the film has a strong human heart. Freeland allows us to get to know Josephat and Vedastus intimately. His camera is always observing but never probing, never forcing a point. The pacing is good and the development of Josephat and Vedastus is done in a very even manner. We see a full range of emotions from these two men, they are obviously angry and scared about the killings, but we also see the side of them that is full of life and humor. We see that they are dedicated to their cause, but also to their communities. With gorgeous cinematography and a beautiful score to underlie the sometimes brutal imagery, Freeland has crafted a beautiful film.