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  • Memories of a Burning Tree

    Tanzania, Netherlands, Singapore | 2009 | 86min | Swahili | English Subtitles | HD

    • Göteborg International Film Festival 2010, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2010 (World Premiere)
    • Asian competition, Singapore International Film Festival, 2010
    • In competition for the Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award, Tokyo International Film 2010
    • World Cinema Competition, Mumbai International Film Festival 2010
    • In Best Documentary competition, Cinemanila International Film Festival 2010

    Also titled: Kumbukumbu Za Mti Uunguao

    “One can hope this work receives wide exposure because such a fresh outsider’s look at an African region is not common in world cinema. Together with Korean American Lee Isaac Chung’s MUNYURANGABO, this is most important quiet examination of lives outside our usual cinema experience.” Michael Campi

    “A Singaporean director has made a movie in Tanzania. In Swahili. With a cast of non-actors. And it’s amazing. Kumbukumbu Za Mti Uunguao (Memories of a Burning Tree) is a multi-layered ensemble drama that cuts to matters of the heart and soul.” Wise Kwai’s Thai Film Journal

    “With understated performances from non-professional actors speaking Swahili, the film gives a striking impression of urban African life without pushing violence, poverty or disease.” Ian Mundell, senses of cinema

    Website: www.memoriesofaburningtree.blogspot.com


    Smith comes to Dar es Salaam to tie up some loose ends. He meets Link, a tourist guide, who agrees to help him. Along the way they are offered help by Abdul, a grave digger, and Toatoa, a metal scavenger, who themselves are searching for answers to their own journeys. Their search eventually leads them to realise that this is a never-ending journey of dreams and disappointments. With an ensemble cast of non-professional actors and an improvised script, this film is an homage to the road movie genre, where ultimately the road ends when you want it to end.

    Director’s Biography

    Sherman Ong is director of BETOK (HAF 2010, Hubert Bals Fund award), MEMORIES OF A BURNING TREE (Rotterdam), FLOODING IN THE TIME OF DROUGHT (Centre Pompidou Paris), HASHI (Best Script, Singapore Film Awards) and TICKETS (Venice Biennale). Winner of the 2010 ICON de Martell Cordon Bleu Photography Award, his practice centred on the human condition and our relationships with others within the larger milieu.

    Technical Specifications

    Country of production: Singapore, Malaysia, Tanzania, The Netherlands

    Production Company: Paddy Pictures

    Co-production Companies: Studio Shermano, 13 Little Pictures

    Running length: 86 minutes / COLOR

    Year of production: 2010

    Language: Swahili

    Subtitles: English

    Original Format: HD PAL

    Screening Format: HDCAM PAL or Digibeta PAL

    Aspect Ratio: 1:1.85

    Sound: Stereo


    Smith K. Kimaro

    Link Reuben

    Abdul Khalfan Malaika

    Khalid Saleh Bilal

    Mariam Rashid

    Grace Mathayo

    Miriam Emanuel

    Mosses Samseni

    Raheli Augustino

    Supporting Cast

    Rase Ndunguru

    Stephen Josephat

    Silvan N Mkude

    Abdullah Saidi

    Halima Hassan

    Gladness Charles

    Christina Jumas

    Zaina Saidi

    Gwamaka Mwakalinga

    Khadija Borna

    Khadya Mohamedi

    Joruh Jackson

    Amina Irajabu

    Secemani Husseni

    Sikoca Zoni

    Shomaki Zumk

    Zuena Lawi

    Ramadhani Shabani

    Mohamed Abdalah

    Earohiney Njoki

    Goodlucky Simon

    Adamy Hamizi

    John Kachile


    Director: Sherman Ong

    Writers: Sherman Ong with Peter Mbwago & Nkumi Hamis Mtingwa

    Producer: Sherman Ong

    Co-producers: Gertjan Zuilhof, Tan Bee Thiam

    Cinematographer: Sherman Ong

    Sound: Nkumi Hamis Mtingwa, Malto Tambi

    Editor: Ming An, Kent Chan

    Assistant Director: Peter Mbwago

    Script Supervisor: Edgar Chatanda

    Post-production Sound: Takuya Katsu

    Camera Assistant: Malto Tambi

    Fixer/Location: Link Reuben

    Music: The ‘Tribute to Mardana’ Gang

    Publicity Designer: Catherine Chia

    Supported by: International Film Festival Rotterdam

    Previous Screenings


    International Film Festival Rotterdam (World Premiere)

    Goteborg International Film Festival (World Premiere)

    Singapore International Film Festival (Asian Film Competition)

    Hong Kong International Film Festival

    African, Asian & Latin American Film Festival, Milan

    Press and International Distribution / Sales Contact





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