ABC Africa review

A moving documentary about the plight of Ugandan children orphaned by the twin scourges of AIDS and civil war, ABC Africa is the first film from acclaimed director Abbas Kiarostami to venture outside his native Iran. But despite the change of scene, it's in line with his body of work, examining the strength of human resilience while cleverly blurring the distinctions between reality and fiction.

Those expecting a conventionally earnest account of suffering and deprivation, though will be taken aback. Instead, Kiarostami fills the screen with bright colours and images of smiling kids as they sing and dance in front of the digital cameras.

Standout moments include the crew's conversation about the mysteries of existence during a blackout; the creation of a child's makeshift coffin from a cardboard box, and the heavenly perspective of the closing shot from a departing airplane. Intelligent, emotional, but never self-consciously grim film-making.

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