In some African countries, a complete skeleton of albinos can be exchanged for up to $75,000.
Los Angeles, CA, Jan 24 – “$75,000” is a 14-minute short film that immediately captivates the viewer. Spoken in rhythmic first-person voice overs in the languages of Bamabara, Fon, and Yoruba with English subtitles, the narration is based on actual testimonies collected by writer/director Moïse Togo.
Focusing on the physical and moral conditions of people living with albinism in Africa, Togo said he was touched by the story of a 5-year-old girl with albinism who was kidnapped and killed.
“I felt the need to express myself on this phenomenon,” he said during a Q&A following the international short documentary’s premiere at 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
There is a false belief that the bodies of people with albinism bring wealth and prosperity. Togo’s film, however, can help normalize living with albinism and draw attention to the killings of people based on how they look.
The film was made during Togo’s studies at the Fresnoy-Studio national des arts contemporains in France. His assignment included utilizing a new technology-based filmmaking technique, which allowed him to further explore the relationship between fact and fiction throughout the film.
“Before starting my movie, I watched many movies that were innovative based on real facts,” Togo said. “Some documentaries mixed reality with picture, some with 3D effects. I chose to use 3D imaging. I wanted to do something we are not used to seeing in documentary. I wanted to break borders between reality and the imaginary.”
“The real allowed me to go and meet the victims through the heartbreaking testimonies,” he added. “The imaginary allowed me to capture emotion through the time-lapse of the violence inflicted on them… The 3D computer graphics allowed me to take the distance so as not to shock the viewer.”
Viewers hear testimonies from one individual who shares how his mother was told to poison him due to the color of his skin. Another shares how his arm was cut off as a child, leaving his mother to cauterize the wound. A mother recounts how she attempted to fight off men with machetes to save her son but failing. And another talks about how her husband was cut up like they “were slaughtering a cow.”
“The idea was not to shock, yet the testimonies are powerful,” Togo said. “The scenes of the crimes were used through the sound and also through time-lapse where the time is suspended. Characters will not move. It’s to show the gravity of violence against people with albinism. The violence continues and I wanted to inform the world of the violent acts that they suffer.”
At the end of the film, viewers hear a testimony from an individual with the desire to live a typical life with the sound of a heart beating in the background: “I had to hide, live in fear. We don’t have a normal life when we are hunted. My wish is to see all albinos live like everyone else because we are human beings.”