Friday, July 8, 2016

One film nomination was not enough for "Aisha"

That is for the 2015 Feature Drama “Aisha”, in next month’s The African Film Festival (TAFF), in the United States of America. This festival (TAFF) is said to “celebrate films that either promote African culture; address issues affecting the Continent or explore its’ landmarks and historic leaders”.

It’s an annual event, which takes place on the first three days of July, in Dallas, Texas. So imagine the feeling he got hearing that “Aisha”,a 112-minute film, made right here, from the collaboration of Uzikwasa in Pangani District of Tanga Region with the Dar es Salaam- based Kijiweni Productions.

Now remember, Uzikwasa, the Executive Producers of this film, is an organisation that prides itself in aiming to reach out, listen and encourage voices amongst rural communities, who they engage in various ways to find development solutions for themselves.On the other hand, Kijiweni Productions is a filmmaking organisation founded and owned by Shivji, who produced and directed this film.

Therefore, the young filmmaker’s joy, when talking to the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ earlier this week, should be well understood. Added to the TAFF nominations, “Aisha” has been doing quite well in the festival circuits and has already been selected for screening in 14 different ones. The Zanzibar International Festival (ZIFF) is one of the recent one, in which the film is scheduled for screening on July 15, in the Old Fort.

The most recent one is these TAFF nominations, which they got earlier this week. “So what I’m really happy about is that althoughTAFF is a small festival, the prestigious part of it comes from the fact that each department essentially of our film, has been nominated and is put on a pedestal, as an African film out there in Texas. So everyone who has played an active role in making this film a reality, is actually getting some more out of this,” he admitted.

These six nominations are for Best Narrative Feature, Best Director, which is Chande Omar and Best Actor, Adarusi Wali. The others are Best Actress, Godliver Gordian, Best Soundtrack, which is the song “Minna Dada” by the local songwriter, singer and musician, Vitalis Maembe and Best Cinematography by Takura Maurayi. Being nominated, Shivji says means one has been short-listed, therefore, selected from a larger pool.

This is something worth being proud of, according to him, who has seen some of the other films that have been selected. Going beyond this and winning the award in any of these categories, he maintains would be a bonus. As the Executive Producers of the film Uzikwasa, funded it and choose the topic, they wanted to address.

Kijiweni Productions was approached because their films, such as “Shoeshine” and Samaki Mchangani”, usually address social justice issues. They don’t usually make NGO films but on this occasion they liked the work Uzikwasa were doing on the ground. So they agreed to make this film providing they had “Creative Control” over it.

This involved conducting the research, finding a script writer and other members of the production crew, together with cast. They went on to handling all post-production from editing to sound mixing and even the promotion right down to its premier, there in Pangani, where it was shot. “So taking this into consideration, I would say that Kijiweni Productions made this film.

The difference now is that we don’t have copyrights to it. It’s owned by the Executive Producers (Uzikwasa), who funded it. Therefore, when it comes to ownership and distribution it will be them, but in terms of the Creative Control it’s definitely Kijiweni Productions,”Shivji said. The film, which was shot in Pangani in January last year was premiered right there in July of the same year.
Apart from the nomination success the film has had in its first year, Shivji is also very proud of being part of it for helping to bring out conversation and create dialogue on issues of gender violence, within local communities.

Another person spoken to in relations to these nominations is the independent local Filmmaker, Edgar Ngelela. Apart from making films he also teaches at the University of Dar es Salaam’s (UDSM) School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC),Television and Radio Production.

He pointed out the fact that this locally-made film received such nominations, shows that “Tanzania is on the world map” therefore, is seen by others outside. “It does not stop there either,” he maintains, “for by so doing Aisha is actually paving the way for other of our filmmakers to try as much as they can to improve and do better films.”

“This increases the possibilities for local filmmakers to have their productions showcased in the same festival or any other one, in another country. This will help more local films to cross borders, as Aisha has certainly now done.

This is what we’ve been trying to do for such a long time,” Ngelela, who lists “Kosa” and “Sauti ya Kunese” amongst his films, added. He is very optimistic about there being more of such situations in the future, given the mind-set he has observed of a number of young coming-up filmmakers.

These new stock, he maintains are consciously trying to cross borders. One of the things he believes, which has helped make “Aisha” a good film, is being able to see a few things in it that relate to its ethnicity and traditions.

It is such things, Ngelela says, which clearly shows the viewer what country it’s made in and that it’s trying to say something about the society, plus local people’s feelings concerning it. According to Ngelela there are those local filmmakers who will see this as a big success and follow-on.

However, there will also be those who will not even take notice at all, and will just continue as if nothing happened. He has taken note.

Written by Imani Mani / 02-July-2016 / Dailynews

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