My name is Linda Sydney Zwane and let me just share with you my experience of the Kasi Movie Showcase, a traveling film festival hosted by Afropolitan Explosiv: I’d like to first of start-off by saying that I came into this experience as an AFDA graduate who obtained a BA degree in Motion picture, here I majored in Television studies where I did television production as well as the technical aspect. The experience I had at AFDA gave me a foundation to execute a shoot as well as being able to practice what I’ve learnt. Previously I attended The National school of Arts where I was introduced to the world of the arts here I got to appreciate the arts as a medium of communication also as a tool of communicating social matters through creativity.
This accumulation of experience in the arts for the past 9 years led to working for Afropolitan Explosiv. The first time we did the KZN International Festival for Black-centred Film. After this stint, I had no idea that it would work out so well, the concept of bringing African films to people in communities where they weren’t used to such just enthralled me as we showcased these films to communities that previously had no access to this, It was then that I knew for sure that there would be a second edition.
Diverse Backgrounds: Diverse Stories
When I was told that I was selected to work on the second edition, in the Kasi Movie Showcase, I was honored as I knew from the previous one that we would be able to reach more people and more communities which was exactly the case. What made me even more excited is the fact that we would be reaching more people, and more communities from diverse backgrounds. Personally I found it very exciting that we now travelled three provinces KZN, Mpumalanga, and Free State, we now got to visit places such as Dundee, Vrede, and Volksrust in addition to Newcastle. Which showed the growth we had achieved especially since the first edition was mainly in Newcastle.
Our team was also a reflection of this diversity as we all came from different places in South Africa, one came from Durban, the other from Port Elizabeth and I came from Soweto in addition to our directors who were based in Madadeni, KZN. This meant we had to learn how to complement our different backgrounds as well as appreciating our mediums of communication which helped the overall execution of the festival. This was also challenging as is always the case with having different personalities in a team.
What I also liked was the fact that our team had a very good work ethic as if we all knew the importance of this event, hence meaning that 5 people were able to work as if we were 10 or15 individuals. Personally it was very challenging as I had to vastly stretch my capabilities as I ended up doing work such as grading pictures, doing posters, data wrangling, editing trailers in addition to working on the video and photography aspect hence it was very exhausting. Though this was the case I got to learn a lot more than I ever thought hence mistakes were obviously made. Therefore, through this experience I hope I can do a better job next time as I’ve learnt from some of the mistakes that I’ve made.
Discovering How People React to Film
I learnt through our travels that some communities were more neglected than others in terms of the arts, some halls that we screened at such as the ones at Volksrust and Vrede seemed like they were really neglected in terms of maintenance which was quite disappointing on a personal level as I felt like so much could be done in these halls in terms of the potential of introducing the arts to these communities and as well as introducing the concept of bringing more social coherence to the communities.
What I really liked though was how people reacted when we showcased our films to them how they took part in the discussions with much enthusiasm. Like for example one place that stood out for me was the old age home that we went to in Volksrust, it was so interesting for me to see how the historical South African movie we screened brought out such emotions of anger to some of the individuals as if they were reliving some of the experiences that they encountered during the times of apartheid. What I also learnt was the concept of leadership which was entrusted upon me by Dr Thokozani Mhlambi this is was something relatively new to me as I’ve never had such a role before, at first it felt like he just threw me into the deep end and just left me there but as the days grew I had learnt to embrace this as challenging as it was, but as a person who enjoys the thrill of a new challenge I was determined to utilize this when it came to working with my apprentice Axolile Njokweni who was relatively new to this kind of environment, but in the end he fully embraced it too.
Here I showed him basic things such as how to handle a camera, he in turn assisted me in terms of data wrangling and grading pictures. I felt like this led to us developing a great working chemistry as he was someone with a good work ethic, to the point where he ended up helping me with some skills that I had forgotten such as adding logos to our graded pictures.
Challenges & Life-long Learning
During the process, I also became aware of my own weaknesses: as I learnt that I wasn’t as well organized when it came to certain aspects I guess as the week grew and fatigue developed an air of forgetfulness and complacency weighed its ugly head in which at times cause some conflict with me and some of the members of the team. What made me happy though was way in which I was approached about this at times, by my team members. We managed to work through this as a team that we were.
The overall skills that I acquired in the 10 days have made me a much stronger and competent person. I was able to feed off the individuals in our team as they gave me a kind of kinetic energy that propelled me to work even harder even at times of great exhaustion. We all faced certain challenges at certain moments as I can remember one team member, responsible for sound, faced a difficult challenge when the sound mixer broke but thanks to team work he was eventually able to use a sound-card devise instead, so I feel like we all grew together because we worked together , ate together, slept together in the same household and even though there were moments of conflict and tension we all worked through this hence I think of our team as more than just a team but also as a family because all families fight but in the end we can all go to a restaurant, eat food and even have a laugh as if nothing ever happened.
Introducing a New Concept of Film
I also learnt that in these venues that we went to the concept of short-films, African cinema, or any other formats other than the Hollywood-style cinema was also kind of foreign as you could see their eyes light up when they saw films such as Inyanga Yase Busuku (by Kekeletso Khena), which I feel South Africa as a whole should start showcasing more of instead of pilling us up with Hollywood films that don’t really show much interest in African culture.
Thanks to this film festival I’ve also been exposed to film techniques of African filmmakers such as Membetty who uses conventions such as not using a cast of professional actors for his films which I believe heightens the authenticity of his films. Therefore to conclude I learnt more than just the specifics of running such an event but also the concept of reaching out to the communities, leadership, team work, and an increased work ethic. This is what I’ve learnt from the Kasi Movie Showcase. §
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Kasi Movie Showcase (2017) was a project proudly funded by the National Department of Arts & Culture