Year Released: 2015
Running Time: 14 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Looking for Nelao was a unique modern silent film, so I can’t think of too many films like this one.
-This film is streaming on YouTube.
-Looking for Nelao cost $2000 Namibian dollars to make. That may sound expensive for a short film, but at the time of writing this review, that’s the equivalent of $146 USD. You wouldn’t have known that by looking. That amount would make Jafar Panahi look like Stephen Spielberg.
-Director Oshoveli Steve Shipoh’s advice for filmmakers is: “People don’t care if your film is shot on an iPhone or a Red Epic, they just want to be entertained and captivated.” (credit to The Namibian).
-Speaking of Shipoh, he’s also directed Where There’s Smoke and Painted Scars.
Here’s another African nation that’s now being represented on Iridium Eye: Namibia! I’ve been keeping my eye on that country for reasons completely unrelated to this film, but I thought it would be great to check out what films have been coming out of this nation. When I began looking for short films, I thought I would check out this modern silent film hailing from Africa’s land of the brave (yes, I just referenced their national anthem).
Let’s see how this Namibian short film holds up.
Looking for Nelao is about a man named Edward. He’s had the roughest year because he survived in a car crash while three other people died. Edward was in a coma for eleven months and finally wakes up. Unfortunately, he suffers from amnesia, but one thing he does remember is being with his girlfriend Nelao. Edward doesn’t know where she is, so he asks every passerby is anyone has seen her while showing them her picture. Most people haven’t seen her which causes him sadness for the longest time even though he’s determined to find her no matter what.
I’ve covered some silent films, but not too many modern ones. This was a nice change of pace for me and it was certainly unique in the world of talkies (wow, I just sounded like I was from the 20s from that last sentence). Even though the plot is simple and straightforward, it certainly does tug at one’s heartstrings. You really want Edward to find Nelao and to reunite with her given all that he’s been through. The visual productions looked way better than the budget and I thought the monetary value was much greater than what I thought. The camera work was nice and the usage of cool colors really adds to the underlying morose nature and really adds to the atmosphere on so many levels. The writing did have some good points like a sudden plot twist that made sense with the story and an aspect of the car crash that makes Edward’s backstory more tragic in hindsight which I won’t spoil for you.
This short film could’ve been looking for more things though. One thing that I noticed right away were some typos in the subtitles. In a silent movie that was so reliant on the typed up words, those elements got distracting at times. The plot does stretch the limits of reality from time to time even though the plot does bounce back. Some aspects of the plot twists got a bit unbelievable to me even though the ending was good. The message did get overt and the final message was cheesy. I wished it could’ve been less preachy in that aspect for Looking for Nelao. There’s a brief side character that I won’t spoil since it ties into the biggest plot twist was more of a caricature than a character that goes into stereotypical stuff straight out of a Lifetime movie. Also, I thought the soundtrack got repetitive with the ambient tunes used.
Looking for Nelao was a pleasant surprise to watch when I searched for African cinema. The modern silent film aspect was unorthodox, but very creative in it’s approach. The visuals were very well done and added some artistic elements and to the mood. The story is simple, but doesn’t insult people’s intelligence. I did have some issues with some elements of the plot twists and the preachy motifs of the film though. Looking for Nelao is worth your time regardless and I hope to see more of Oshoveli Steve Shippoh’s work.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you like romantic stories.
Subtract 1-3 points if you don’t like amnesia as a plot point.
-Very good camera work and cinematography
-Nice feel good moments
-Plot twists get flawed in certain aspects
-Overt message can be corny
Final Score: 8/10 points
Content Warning: Looking for Nelao would be ideal for teens and up. There’s some swearing and sexual innuendo mostly from Edward’s sister in his backstory while a certain character is implied to be abusive (spoilers avoided).
All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. Looking for Nelao is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh.