In the annals of colonial African cinema, this film is a landmark. In 1927, Italian director and explorer Attilio Gatti, known for his wildlife compendiums, travelled to Zululand along with anthropologist Lidio Cipriani in order to create a film that would weave genuine anthropological elements into a fantasy of witchcraft and betrayal. He further developed his script with 'love, hate, intrigue and adventure' (words which were part of the original title). Gatti took a Western romantic theme of 'boy meets girl, boy loses girl' and stirred it together with ideas of the tribal as he observed it, choosing his actors from among the local Zulu tribe members. As a result, Siliva the Zulu stands virtually alone as a not necessarily authentic record of Zulu life and culture at that time, but certainly the only images we have of a people and their willing collaboration.

Filmmaker
Attilio Gatti
Country
Italy, South Africa
Year
1927
Medium
Betacam SP PAL
Length
64’
Language
no dialogue