Family drama explores themes of youth innocence, friendship, identity and masculinity and raises questions about African attitudes to animal rights
The pandemic notwithstanding, there is much activity in the film industry where local filmmaker Moreetsi Gabang is set to direct a short film titled “Mosimane.” Set in an unnamed village in Botswana, the film follows the story of a little boy who had to fight to save his dog after a rooster is killed. From the producer’s perspective, the narrative of the live action short film lends itself to African audiences that differ from attitudes of treatment of animals elsewhere.
Gabang explains: “Sometimes it takes a sacrifice to kill an dog for the sake of peace between villagers when the dog has done something ‘wrong.’ The boy was ordered to kill his favourite dog because it has done something that will cause tension between the villagers. This goes to perceptions of animal welfare in Africa as they differ by region, culture and custom.
“Although everyone has the right to practice their culture or religion, what may be regarded as lack of understanding or tolerance in African culture has resulted in conflict between traditional slaughter practitioners and animal welfare advocacy groups across the world. There are things that we Africans do that may cause an outcry among people and the animal rights activists who may consider the sacrifice as an act of cruelty to the animal.”
While the script for the short film is written and directed by Gabang, local company Nio Visuals will wear the production cap, casting local actors as part of the international screen. Production is expected to begin early in March with five days scheduled for shooting.
The short film is aimed for participation in film festivals across the world this year. Pre-production has already commenced by a production team consisting of more than 25 local filmmakers who will be working behind the scenes. “The genre of the film is a coming-of-age family drama that explores themes of youth innocence, friendship, identity and masculinity,” Gabang said.
Asked production in COVID-19 conditions, Gabang said with the right adaptation, work can still be done without compromising safety measures. “For this particular short film, we set out with the goal of telling a self-contained story with a minimalist approach to casting, locations and crew numbers,” he explained.
“Wearing masks on set will be mandatory, constant temperature checks done and provision of sanitation to all personnel ensured. Logistics are trickier under COVID-19 but there is no reason why local productions like this one cannot continue to be made.”
Gabang obtained a First for his Masters after receiving the Vice Chancellor Postgraduate International Scholarship to study at UAL: London College of Communication. His short film, “Motswakwa” (Foreigner), was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2019 Africa Movie Academy Awards and went on to screen at film festivals worldwide. He is a former BA valedictorian at AFDA JHB, Talents Durban 2017 and is a Talents Berlinale 2018 alumni.