Yesterday (Khumalo) may be seriously ill, yet she still has to walk two hours each way to see a doctor at a clinic. When she discovers she is HIV positive, she travels to Johannesburg to tell her husband (Khambula), who works in a mine there. He refuses to accept responsibility and beats her. Back in her tiny village, she continues to care for her young daughter Beauty (Myelase), while befriending the new schoolteacher (Lenabe). Hiding her sickness from the narrow-minded villagers, she vows to see Beauty start school before the disease takes its inevitable course.
This Oscar-nominated drama achieves a state of grace through its breathtaking cinematography, simple storytelling, and the noble, understated performance of Khumalo, who infuses "Yesterday"'s emotional journey with palpable fear and yearning. South Africa looks stunning, but Roodt doesn't use the country's wild beauty to sugarcoat "Yesterday"'s primitive life of toil, uncertainty and hardship. This powerful film about AIDS in Africa touches on all key issues (the stigma, ignorance, and lack of health care) without succumbing to maudlin sentiment or political heavy-handedness. This is the first Zulu language film ever to be released internationally, and it fully merits international recognition and praise. Seize "Yesterday"!