Teamwork makes the dream work

Batswana women are raring to go after MultiChoice training


Africa’s film industries, Botswana included, have long held the ambition to catch up with Hollywood, which is the world’s highest-grossing film industry. It is for this reason that MultiChoice has ushered in a new era of storytellers who are eager to sway the narrative and engage in a dialogue that tells original African stories with the spirit of teamwork at their MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF) Academy. Aimed at developing emerging TV and film talents while promoting growth of local content production, the first batch of 20 students from seven different countries found themselves at the Zambia Institute of Mass Communication (ZAMCOM) to learn about film in 2018. The group successfully completed their training that saw them graduating last weekend in Zambia where they received their certificates from the Zambia University-accredited training programme.

In an interview, Motswana filmmaker Serena Mmifinyane said they are on the threshold of a new dawn in Africa’s storytelling landscape after a rigorous 12-month film training. “I think the biggest takeaway for me from this experience is that teamwork makes the dream work, especially when you are creating films,” Mmifinyane said. “This is definitely a take-home for me because our industry is fragmented, which shouldn’t be the case when we are striving to cement our country as one of the creative capitals of Africa. The training has taken me out of our comfort zone because we emerged as skilled individuals who are ready to make a difference in our own industries. During our time at the academy, we produced a series of short films and shows that were critiqued by renowned industry professionals in order to achieve the high standards so sought after by viewers today.”

In addition to their certificates of completion, MultiChoice Africa awarded Nikita Mokgware, another Motswana graduate, a four-week internship opportunity on an Africa Magic series in Nigeria. Mokgware says this opportunity will enable her to contribute professionally to Botswana’s television industry. “The talent factory programme has helped in terms of the structure of how films are created, how to promote them and how to get investors to buy into it because that is what is really missing in Botswana where art is still very informal and we are really not a unit. There are many stories being made at home and we have the potential and are open to sharing the skills we acquired. This is an industry of collaboration and we need each other. To the upcoming students, please do better than we did because that’s the only way Africa can be the entertainment hub that we want it to be.”

The Director of MultiChoice Southern Africa Holdings, Nyiko Shiburi, said the 20 students from the Southern Africa region are the first ever graduates of the MultiChoice Talent Factory which is aimed at supporting and encouraging excellence in filmmaking at the post school education level. “The MTF Academy students have been provided with skills sets to develop their talent, connect with industry professionals and tell authentic African stories through a comprehensive curriculum comprising theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in cinematography, editing, audio production and storytelling,” Shiburi added.

During the programme, MTF Academy students produced two original feature films, Savannah Skies and The Painting, that were premiered on the eve of their graduation at Ster-Kinekor, Manda Hill Cinema. The films will also be aired on M-Net channels across the continent, including Zambezi Magic where The Painting will premiere on 6 September 2019 at 21:30 CAT while Savannah Skies will air on 13 September at 21:30 CAT. Both films will be made available on the video-on-demand service, Showmax.

The Painting is a horror film conceptualised and written by Nikita Mokgware and directed by Emanuel Goncalves. The storyline is from Botswana and it involves a pregnant abstract painter who lives with her husband and son. The painter is struggling to sell her work because it is not ‘African’ enough. One morning, she discovers a painting in her house of a woman in full traditional Bemba attire with all the cultural trappings. Meanwhile, Savannah Skies is a romantic drama film set around a young woman who, in an attempt to save her father, is forced into a marriage. She must navigate her way in a new household, defying her conniving mother-in-law as she pursues her education and learns of an unconfessed love that has been with her all along. Both films were shot on location in Zambia.

MTF Academy Director for Southern Region, who is a household name in Zambia, with over 28 years of experience in broadcasting and communications, Berry Lwando expressed his delight at the opportunity for the 20 young creatives to launch their feature films to an audience of industry stakeholders and film aficionados from the Southern Region. “The inaugural MTF Class of 2018 is thrilled to tell two authentic African stories developed and produced by these young creatives,” Lwando said. “This is their chance to show the industry how they’ve applied their intensive film training and industry immersion. I am incredibly proud to see these young filmmakers’ names on the credit roll!”

Furthermore, two Batswana women, Masego Mohwasa and Lorato Orapeleng, have been chosen for the Class of 2019 MultiChoice Talent Factory Academy. They were selected after a two-month rigorous selection process across 13 African countries, 60 aspiring filmmakers representing East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa. They will begin their 12-month training programme at the MTF Academies in Nairobi, Lusaka and Lagos in October this year.