I don’t do #WCW, my personal convictions bar me from setting aside a day for appreciating when it’s something that should be done on an hourly basis. I appreciate the way women have influenced me in my film making career. Some years ago I watched a short film on Zimbabwean national television called Danai and it had such a profound effect on me. The end credits revealed that the director was Rumbi Katedza, whose name I would see a number of times on some music videos.
What really hit a pubescent boy after watching Danai? I still occasionally watch the short film online and I see what hit me hard, the handling and visual portrayal of the abused lead lady’s internal emotional strife and Chiwoniso’s music-acting as an emotional cue that places the viewer where the director really wants them. Or maybe the dance theatre cut-ins, that really brought out the dance of life theme and a woman taking the lead in a dance and her life. All these were orchestrated and envisioned by Rumbi Katedza and her team. Now that was a totally new experience for my younger self, a film that got me sentimental and flooded my system with feelings of empathy. It wasn’t the usual violence and sex fests that I had been watching all along, this was a film that had me thinking and feeling days after watching it.
In my own DIY film studies I started watching more female directed films, directors like Ava Duverney and Sophia Coppola stand out. Their films evoke emotions, which is something audiences really appreciate because film is art and art is supposed to get you feeling and thinking. It’s totally different from what the majority of male directors portray in their movies, which is over sexualisation, gore and violence. As a director, watching lady directed films really helped me understand how to add emotion into my film subtext.
Ava Duvarney directed and co-wrote Oscar nominated “Selma.” She has mentioned that she was the seventh choice for the Selma directing role. Let’s be honest the Selma movie wouldn’t have had that level of impact if it had been directed by a male director (my own opinion). Ava explored emotions and got us viewing Martin Luther King from a totally new angle, her ability to extract that Oscar deserving performance from David Oyelowo is a milestone in Afro-American film history.
How does that connect with Zimbabwe? Well I am just begging to see more Zimbabwean women directing films in Zimbabwe and not just settling to be the pretty face on screen. To be the architects of the film production and tell stories from that valuable emotional perspective that so inspired little Lenni after watching Katedza’s Danai. Not to say there are no women in Zimbabwe film; there are women film practitioners like Tsitsi Dangarembga, Nakai Tsuro, Fortunate Tazvivinga, Priscillar Sithole to mention a few, and they are doing a great job (after all they inspired me.)
When we get more women directing and writing screenplays the Zimbabwe film narrative will get stronger and more younglings will be inspired the same way I got hit hard after watching Danai.
Written by Lenni Mdawini Sibanda of YaSiboMedia, award winning filmmaker and member of multi award winning art house Ya-sibo? Media