The World Unseen
Starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth.
Directed by Shamim Sarif.
In 1950s South Africa, a land torn apart by apartheid, Amina (Sheetal Sheth) epitomizes individuality and freedom. She runs the Location Café, a haven of fun, food and festivities open to all. Amina defines her own laws and lives on her own terms undeterred by the reproving police and the disparaging Indian community.
Miriam (Lisa Ray) demurely follows conventions and makes no demands on life. Her world is confined to being a doting mother to her three children and a subservient wife to her chauvinistic husband Omar (Parvin Dabas) .
Amina has a covert business partner Jacob (David Dennis). By virtue of being ‘coloured’ he is not allowed to own a business. Jacob fancies a local white postmistress Madeleine (Grethe Fox) but their desire to pursue a relationship is thwarted by the indignities and injustices of the prevalent laws.
Omar’s sister Rehmat (Nandana Sen) marries a white man against rules that forbid mixed marriages. When she needs protection from police Amina shelters her. Amina’s charm and strength of character captivate Miriam. When Amina accepts a farming job in her backyard Miriam secretly rejoices at the opportunity to connect with her. Amina notices Miriam’s inherent kindness and silent dedication and the mutual attraction between them grows. They bare their hearts to each other and their emotions get entangled. They contrive another reason to meet – driving lessons.
The inescapable social distance between them makes them question their feelings but in the midst of hatred and oppression their only refuge is love.
In the resplendent South African landscape with retro music strewn in the background, The World Unseen explores Miriam’s relationship with Amina and how it empowers her to make personal choices that change her world.
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Best Actress – Gran Canarias Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Spain (2009)
Best Actress – Festival del Mar, Ibiza (2009)
Best Leading Performance – Out Takes Film Festival, Dallas (2009)
11 South African Film and Television Awards, including Best Ensemble Cast, Best Director, Best Writing (2009)
Audience Award, Best Feature –Paris Feminist & Lesbian Film Festival (2009)
Audience Award, Best Feature –Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (2009)
Best Debut Feature –Rehoboth Film Festival (2009)
World Cinema Best Director –Phoenix International Film Festival (2009)
Best Director, Feature – Clip Film Festival, USA (2009)
Silver Medal – Verzaubert Film Festival, USA (2009)