The loveLife Film Competition has finally reached the ‘lights, camera, action’ stage after a tough round of documentary pitches from the competition front-runners. Seven thought-provoking documentaries on how young people in South Africa deal with issues have been chosen and will be screened on SABC next year. With funding from the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund (NLDTF), loveLife, South Africa’s largest HIV/Aids prevention programme for young people – in partnership with Born Free Media and the SABC – has over the past two weeks used the facilities at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking in Milpark, Johannesburg, to help the young filmmakers fulfill their cinematography dreams.
The 28 film enthusiasts were chosen from 120 competition entrants and have been working in groups of four to complete the seven chosen documentaries. They pitched their documentary ideas to a panel of judges, who selected the most viable ones. Each group has a professional director, photography director, sound and production assistant. The groups are currently scattered around the country to shoot the footage for their documentaries and will return to Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking later this month to edit their shots.
Born Free Media Executive Producer, Carolyn Carew, says the selection process was difficult as there were potentially six other strong ideas. “We wanted to ensure that we had a story per province and that they work in terms of loveLife’s communication strategy and target audience for the Make YOUR Move campaign which is designed to encourage behaviour change and ultimately prevent the spread of HIV among young people.”
Scott Burnett, loveLife’s Youth Programmes Director, says the basic skills and professionalism instilled through the process of working on a film are things the trainees will keep with them for life, no matter which career they choose for themselves. “I have been blown away by the young filmmakers we have selected. I wish we could turn every story they have brought into a full-length feature film. The group is motivated, enthusiastic, and full of drive. I can see bright futures ahead for all of them.”
The Director for the documentary A World Within, Chumisa Ndakisa (20), says she is fortunate to be a part of this experience and is excited to return to the edit suite and work on the final product. “We are all grateful for the opportunity to be in this space and to have met such amazing people on this journey,” she says. The documentary is based on the lives of four young Hip Hop artists from different backgrounds who have a passion for music. The aim of the documentary is to unleash the interest around the poetry of music, culture and the challenges of the music industry.
Sithulile Mbayi (19) is the producer for the documentary iSitimela, which is about the experience of using trains in Johannesburg and how the different people and activities on it make it seem like a world in itself. “The concept is powerful and the fact that it was chosen as one of the seven documentaries means there is something special about it. I am kissing clouds of excitement and can’t wait to sit down and watch it with everyone else,” Mbayi added.
The remaining five documentaries are:
• Jiva Majiva - takes a look at a tavern in a rural village in Limpopo which uses underaged children known as Jika Majika to dance and entertain the patrons in exchange for money and alcohol. This film explores the influence it has on the children and the village, and the ensuing lack of focus on their school work and plans for the future, as well as teenage pregnancies and the high rate of HIV/Aids in the village. The film will concentrate on the children, the community, the tavern owner and patrons, and the royal family who has been unable to control this.
• United Mates of South Africa - is a documentary about the existence and infusion of diverse cultures in South Africa, particularly the Afro Chinese culture. Different ethnic groups, cultural upbringings and backgrounds are respected in South Africa and this will document the rainbow nation as a whole.
• Where is the love? - is a documentary about breaking the cycle of teenage pregnancy by involving community leaders and role models. This will be shot in a contemporary way that intertwines dance, poetry and music throughout the documentary.
• Driving force – takes a look at the journey of self-discovery of a boy becoming a man. The documentary is about one of the young filmmakers’ voyages through life after he was released from jail for robbery. It also takes a look at the life-long lessons learnt from the traditional circumcision school in the Eastern Cape.