Whilst it's keen to stress that this more traditional way of life is still superstitious, oppresses women and perpetuates dangerous attitudes towards a life-threatening epidemic, The Forgotten Kingdom also portrays it as more morally rigorous and spiritually fulfilling than city life. The meat of the film is a kind of realist pilgrim's progress for Atang as he treks across the country after Dineo - complete with a wise-cracking orphan boy (Lebohang Ntsane) in tow - encountering people and situations that teach him valuable life lessons (one involves him thatching an old woman's house, his dead father's profession). Here the film is so predictable that it feels as though it's going through the motions, all but phoning in its protagonist's emotional arc. So few films from Africa make it over here in any major way that it's refreshing to hear the story of another country that feels informed by it own concerns and culture. Sadly, for all its attention to detail The Forgotten Kingdom fails to find much of a voice for itself. It's certainly a pleasant experience and the emotional beats in its final act are satisfying enough to justify the journey there, but it ultimately fails to make a lasting impression.
Adam Howard | @afahoward