Out of the Village

By Jonathan Stein | Drama
A brother and his sister seek closure after Ebola ravages their West African village.

An orphaned brother and sister — Mebro and Vabiam — are left to rely on themselves after the Ebola virus ravages their village in West Africa, upending their lives and tearing their family apart.

Writer-director Jonathan Stein’s urgent and focused drama explores the social and cultural impact of the Ebola epidemic from the perspective of those most vulnerable to the upheaval it creates: the children.

Starring Abraham Attah from “Beasts of No Nations,” Stein shot in Ghana with a local cast and crew. With loose, agile camerawork, the film has the feel of a documentary, capturing the textures of village life as well as the emotional fears that face the brother and sister as they grapple with the aftereffects of the disease that has ravaged their home and everything they know. With no one left in their family to rely on, they don’t know who to trust, and are quickly swept up into a quarantine situation that frightens them even more.

Fast-paced editing keeps the audience on their toes, reflecting the discombobulation felt by the children at the center of the story. They are uprooted and frightened, finding themselves in the middle of an international maelstrom with no anchor to keep them steady or foundation for them to lean upon.

The film rests on the performances of its child actors, which are superb and honest. The result is a film that is a gripping and intimate look into the ravages of an epidemic that garners plenty of headlines — outbreaks are still ravaging eastern Congo — but rarely is given an emotional face by the news stories. “Out of the Village” asks: if it takes a village to raise a child, what happens when the village disappears? The answer it teases is both heartbreaking and hopeful, offered in a film that is deeply human and compassionate.




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