MANIFF 2017: The Journey Is The Destination – The Title Says It All
Closing out Friday night at the Manchester Film Festival 2017 was this film, that tells the true story of Dan Eldon, a 21-year-old photojournalist travelling through Africa in the early 1990s who vows to create positive change in the war torn and famine ridden society.
A film that is dedicated to the journalists who have given their lives in search of the truth and positivity, it’s an inspiring, charming tale that packs a powerful emotional punch. Director Bronwen Hughes doesn’t hold back in showing the horrors of this time and that proves for some of the most moving scenes in the whole film.
Produced in part by Eldon’s family and having an entirely African crew aside from the Canadian director, The Journey is the Destination is an indie through and through, making the most of its small budget filming all its scenes in South Africa using whatever locations they could find and including all authentic Somalians for the scenes that took place in that country.
The attention to realism benefits the film greatly and the handheld cinematography puts you right in the middle of Dan’s journey, making you feel like you’re one of the friends on his ‘safari’ towards the film’s beginning and perhaps more impressively, making you feel like you’re one of the reporters getting chased down by violent mobs.
The film begins rather ideally, with Dan (Ben Schnetzer) and a group of friends travelling through the continent, photographing all the wonders and culture they find on their way. Until they reach Mozambique and see the famine. Dan sees himself as someone who can instill positive change for these people and stays on to aid before setting off for war torn Somalia to pursue his photojournalism.
The sharp change in tone that the film takes hits you as an audience member and you begin to identify more with Dan and the dilemmas he’s faced with. To live the life he wants to live, or to live the life that’s expected of him.
His relationship with upper class Kenyan girl, Sawa, played by Somali-Manchester actress Yusra Warsama adds another layer to his story that director Hughes said in the Q&A that followed the screening was ‘very difficult to fit it all into the run time she was allowed.’
— Manchester Film Fest (@ManIFFofficial) March 3, 2017
The film also found the time to tackle the very difficult subject of FGM (female genital mutilation), a topic that requires a great deal of bravery to discuss in this way and present the issue as something that can affect any African woman from the lowest class right up to the highest.
This only increased respect for the film and director Bronwen Hughes.
Dan Eldon’s story is a truly fascinating one; a man that Hughes said ‘could charm anyone to do anything’ and who was evidently such a charitable and driven individual. Ben Schnetzer (Warcraft) gives a fantastic performance as Dan, bringing the charm and passion that Dan was known for.
This is not necessarily a film to inspire journalists to become activists, it’s a film that simply showcases an incredible story for all to see and is presented in such an interesting and ‘scrapbook-like’ style that you are right in there from the word ‘go’.
By the end, you are simply in awe of the lengths that this man went to for his passion and the devastating price he paid.
More from MANIFF2017 tomorrow