Coming of Age
HOLLOW CITY is set in Angola, the civil war-torn country in the southern west coast of Africa that had been colonized by Portugal until independence in 1975. In the tribal village of Bie, eleven year old N'dala (Roldan Pinto João) sees his family massacred by soldiers. He and other orphans are rescued by a missionary nun (Ana Bustorff) and flown to Luanda, Angola's capital, where he runs away from the group and journeys into the heart of the giant city. As he wanders the streets, bewildered by traffic and noise, a group of school children are rehearsing a famous fable-like play by Pepetela about a young heroic soldier named N'gunga, portrayed by 13-year-old Ze (Domingos Fernandes). N'gunga's perseverance, despite fear and the pain of his wounds, becomes a parable for N'dala's experience in the city. "A man must never be afraid," the actors say. "A warrior must never be afraid."