Xan (Alex Michaletos), a South African boy, determines to return his pet cheetah to the wilderness in director Carroll Ballard's latest mingling of child with nature. This charming and pleasant movie, based on a true story, should provide a nice break for families tired of computer-generated fantasies: When we see the child and the cheetah cuddle, they're actually together. Ballard (The Black Stallion, Never Cry Wolf) doesn't work much, perhaps because he's a painstaking craftsman who insists on filming only what can be captured by a camera, rather than created via special effects. Xan's journey takes him across deserts, down rivers, and through jungles. Tribesman Ripkuna (Eamonn Walker) provides help along the way, and his ambiguous motives make his character nicely complex rather than a magical black father figure. More than a simple boy-and-his-cheetah tale, Duma presents a different way of living in the world than is encouraged by our modern, videogame movies, as substantial as a computer program. With Campbell Scott as Xan's father and Hope Davis as his mother.
Director: Carroll Ballard
Writer: Carol Flint and Karen Janszen
Producer: Doug Claybourne
Cast: Hope Davis, Campbell Scott, Alex Michaeletos, Eamonn Walker, Nthabiseng Kenoshi, Jennifer Steyn, Nicky Rebello, Garth Renecle, Andre Stolz and Charlotte Savage