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WEATHERING THE COVID-19 STORM

 

By: Wonder Guchu

Namibia’s filmmaker says he has managed to weather the Covid-19 storms. When I spoke to him Wednesday, Joel said he was in Swakopmund where they about to shoot a movie called Place Under the Sun. Joe, who owns Joe Vision Productions, is the Namibian partner to the German production. He told The Villager that in a way his company has managed to stay afloat and is sustaining seven fulltime jobs and about 30 parttime workers per production. The first time I met the award-winning Namibian artist Joel Haikali in 2009; he was a filmmaker, a director, an actor, and a scriptwriter. He made his first movie entry in the Sam Nujoma biopic, Namibia: Where Others Wavered alongside American actors Danny Glover and Carl Lumbly. The film was directed by Charles Burnnet. Today, Haikali says he is a filmmaker entrepreneur and that most people make the mistake of believing that they are just artists who cannot sell their souls. In a country where most producers are finding it tough to go on, Joel has not stopped making movies.
THE BEGINNING
Haikali’s film, My Father’s Son, featured at the Luxor African Film Festival in Burkina Faso in 2011 and was also selected for the Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival in the same year. He has three short films – Try – that landed an award at the International Film Festival in Luanda in 2013; African Cowboy done in 2008 and Differences that came in 2012. Try was officially selected for screening at Durban International Film Festival in 2012 and at the New York African Diaspora Film Festival. Another one, Tangeni’s Idol screened at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, Pan African Film Festival in

Cannes and at the Tri-Continental Film Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2011. Apart from these, Haikali directed what has been described as Namibia best film yet, Katutura, named after Windhoek’s sprawling high density suburb. Most of his films are about Windhoek. Either it is culture change or some rude awakening. In My Father’s Son, he deals with the issue of culture
change. One brother lives in Windhoek, while the other is village-based. The city-based brother returns to the village after 21 years with a coloured wife and coloured children. As expected, the brother from the city takes it upon himself to rescue his brother from the claws of village life and the cows. The whole film is about how the village-based brother stands his ground, digging in his traditional beliefs. Try, Haikali’s most successful short films, happens over eight hours in Windhoek. Within that time,
events bring together eight people from different backgrounds.

Perfect Nowhere also starts from Windhoek and ends in the desert where a security guard is in the process of committing suicide. There he meets a devout woman.

THE MISTAKE
“The mistake that we have been making all along,” he says, “was the belief that we were
artists, filmmakers. We just made films and then move on to the next one. “An artist filmmaker is driven by passion; by the stories that bug him. He is possessed and does not care about the end product.” “I was like that once until one day I said: wait a minute – even if we say we do not want to sell our souls, one has to be more careful and start asking questions and looking at the needs.”
Making movies needs one to engage in and raise not only funding but interest in the private sector
to invest in the industry. “It means the ability to convince people to come and pool resources together since most people are dependent on government subsidy. This has seen growth in the Namibian film industry over the years,” he says. While most people mourn about piracy, Haikali says if his works are pirated, it means that there is a market for his productions. “It means that I need to come up with a marketing strategy,” he smiles.

 

Wonder Guchu

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