There is something lurking on the edges of Anthony Nti’s short film, Da Yie. The film follows a pair of children in Ghana as they are left to their own devices, but a choice they make to follow a stranger brings them close to a world that may have only heard of before. Adults and kids play in their own worlds, but when they come close to colliding, Nti’s really comes alive.
Matilda and Prince play soccer to get away from their disapproving mothers during the day. Prince worries that his mom will smack him around if he doesn’t return home quicker, but Matilda easily convinces him to stay. After the field has been deserted, a man named Bogah shows up and proposes that they join him at a buffet. Wide-eyed and curious, Matilda jumps at the chance. Prince is reluctant but joins anyway.
Bogah easily engages with them as if he’s a big kid himself, but something doesn’t entirely add up. Why is this man carting around these two young kids? Where exactly are they going? Maybe they should’ve listened to their mothers after all. Goua Robert Grovogui’s performance will entertain you but you won’t want to turn your back on Bogah if you could help it. His easy charm and quick smile will lure you in.
Nti keeps his cards close to his chest but he feeds us more tension minute by minute. When the film descends into brief violence, it’s sudden but not surprising. We are in a dangerous world and Matilda and Prince become more vulnerable as the film progresses. He does wonders with his two young performers, and the cinematography resists the urge to visually plunge us into darkness.
Da Yie is a perfect example of how kids want to fit in with adults and how they are tricked by their intentions. They retain an innocence that usually fades away slowly with time, but Matilda and Prince are closer to it being ripped away from them before they even know it.