The three films showcased at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) all had one thing in common. Aside from being well acted, directed and generally great short films, they were directed by Namibian women.
FNCC and AfricAvenir teamed up to bring ‘Women in Namibian film’ in order to educate the public in Namibia about Namibian film heritage. On Thursday evening, 14 May, they screened three films, namely Uno’s World, directed by Bridget Pickering, 100 Bucks, directed by Oshosheni Hiveluah and Tjiraa, directed by Krischka Stoffels.
Each film carried serious undertones, while spreading the messages of love, hope and showcasing the lives of everyday Namibians.
Most conspicuous of the latter is Krischka Stoffels’s Tjiraa. This movie follows Vezuva, a young Herero woman returning home from studies in Germany, only to find out that her cousin has passed away and must then reluctantly take on a heavy mantle, by becoming the tjiramwe of her late cousin’s husband.
In this movie she is forced to abandon the love of her life and marry the widower.
Otjiramwe is an Otjiherero practise where cross-cousins in a family set-up are allowed to marry each other.
The marriage turns sour very quickly when her husband kicks of their matrimony by consummating it by raping Vezuva. Vezuva tries to put up with it, but turns to her mother, who convinced her to go through with the wedding in the first place when her husband tries to rape her sister as well.
It is a compelling film which exposes the dark side of our own cultures, and asked after the screening whether the film was painting Namibian cultures in a negative light, Stoffels explained, “I wanted to show that even things that were made for good can also be turned for evil by selfish people. Our forefathers made these cultures that we adhere to for our good but many people nowadays have twisted them for the wrong things. Tjiramwe was created in order to keep the wealth of the family within the family, but it can be twisted. It is the same with religion as well.”
On why many of these films have not been shown on local broadcasting stations, Pickering said the money has not been encouraging enough to sell them their rights and therefore find it more beneficial to promote and sell their own work, although Toucy Tjijombo, who works at the NBC explained, this is an issue that the station is looking to correct.
The movies have also been screened at various film festivals across the world, such as the New York film festival.
The panel also encouraged aspiring film makers to learn as much about the craft as they can, even via the internet as institutions that offer film making courses in Namibia are limited.
They also urged them to register with Filmmakers Association of Namibia (FAN) which will help them connect with other film makers in the industry.