After being enrolled in the MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy (MTF), Masego Mohwasa and Lerato Orapeleng, who are no strangers to the film space, have produced a short film called “Cradle” that debuted on Showmax, an internet television service, on 21-30 May.
The spot is known for a unique combination of hit African content and first and exclusive international entertainment series. Orapeleng and Mohwasa, who just completed their classes with the academy, produced a film which premiered on Showmax in the week of Africa Day that fell on May 25.
MTF is a shared-value initiative that provides a platform for the creative industries to develop their talent and engage with one another through their shared passions. It is MultiChoice Africa’s legacy to showcase Africa’s diversity and rich culture through the continent’s deep-rooted storytelling history. The African entertainment industry is at the core of who they are and what they do.
Speaking to Executive Lifestyle this week, Mohwasa, who is a Director, Script Writer and a Producer wrapped into one, shared more on the film that speaks to the roots of African culture and what it stands for. “‘Cradle’ is a non-dialogue film that is a visual metaphor for life, death, spirituality, how cyclical existence is, how the physical and spiritual planes simultaneously feed into each other, and how much they govern our identity,” she said.
“It explores these themes by fusing pre-colonial African tradition and Christianity with futurism and technology, all of which are binary but are a big part of who we are and aspire to be as Africans. It is also a coming of age story about a young woman who is led into the wilderness by her mentor and stays there in isolation for 40 days and 40 nights where her bravery and discipline are tested until she gains personal growth and is ‘reborn.’”
The film has the African feel in terms of costumes, setting, beliefs and the narrative. It is one of many films that carry forward the richness of African culture to people who have conformed to diversifying and are slowly losing their authenticity.
“Some cultures and practices are fading with time, yet they are core to my identity, or are they? Mohwaha queried rhetorically. “As far as the story and the name are concerned, I wanted to write something about what I was going through at the time. Questioning life and death, hence the ‘Cradle’ of life and what it really means. The journey of having my mother, losing her and hoping I will one day meet her. Also the feeling of solitude during all the lockdowns and how I had to learn to put everything she taught me into practice.”
The film brings a fresh view to African culture and has a strong message that Mohwasa said she wanted to communicate, which is the power of solitude and sacrifice for personal growth. “In hindsight, I think the message is that we are never really alone. Because we have been raised in communities and knowledge has been imparted to us, we are never really alone or lacking. We have everything that has been given to us and therefore we carry everyone who gave it to us with us. And once we tap into that legacy, we will feel fulfilled.”
Scouting a setting for the film took blood and sweat. They initially wanted to use Makgadikgadi Pans to shoot the film but later resorted to a nearby and a much smaller pan. “Shooting was also a struggle as the village we shot at had power outages and we couldn’t charge batteries for a while,” she explained. But somehow we managed to get it done in two days and one night. It was as frustrating as most film sets are, to be honest. We rolled with the punches and improvised.”
The two MTF alumni say they are looking forward to a more fulfilling experience in the creative space. They will do more pitching because the Academy taught them the value of having several films ‘in the pocket’ by always being ready for pitching. “I have learnt that any film maker always has to have at least five projects ready to pitch and at least another three submitted or being shot,” Mohwasa noted.
“It is a hectic and crazy cycle but I love it. Needless to say, I have three projects that I was part of locally setting to air on a national broadcaster called Now TV and one project airing on a local video-on-demand platform called UpicTV. I am also working on a pilot to submit to Honey TV and a script that should be complete by June or July.
“TV is bigger than film in Botswana, so that’s where I do most of my work. But I am hoping to be able to get enough work to raise enough to shoot a feature length film here in Botswana that is of international standard through my production company, 27 Pictures. It is something I am eager to get on Showmax.”