Image supplied by MultiChoice.

Late actress Menzi Ngubane received

2021 SAFTAs Winners, Snubs and Surprises of the Night

The River lead Sindi Dlathu, once again, scooped the 'Best Actress' nod, while Menzi Ngubane was honoured with a posthumous 'Best Actor' award at the 15th South African Film and Television awards (SAFTAs).

This year's 15th South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs), which took place this past weekend, were absolutely riveting. The annual award show has grown since the inclusion of shows from streaming platforms such as Showmax and Netflix, which are pitted against traditional silver screen shows. However, the fierce competition has proven that local productions still have a loyal audience, and that South Africa's international audience is lapping up all the juicy plots. Netflix's How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding was the biggest winner of the night after bagging six awards. Previous all-round winner The River followed closely with its lead actress and co-executive producer Sindi Dlathu scoring her second "Best Actress" award for her Lindiwe Dikana role.

Netflix's popular teen drama series Blood & Water, whose second season is in the pipeline, reigned in the "Best TV Drama" category. The "Best Actress for a TV comedy" award deservedly went to Busisiwe Lurayi, for her portrayal of the lead character Tumi in How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding. The Oscar-winning environmental documentary My Octopus Teacher took the "Best Natural History And Environmental Programme" award.

The late Menzi Ngubane received the "Best Actor" nod for his final on-screen performance as nemesis Judas Ngwenya in the soapie Isibaya, which took a bow after eight seasons earlier this year. The first season of Gomora received the "Best Achievement in Directing" award under the telenovela category through public votes. However, some fans expressed their disappointment that Gomora cast members had not been recognised with SAFTA nominations for their roles, which they believed had contributed to the success of show. Veteran theatre and television actor James Ngcobo took home the "Best Supporting Actor in a TV Drama" award for Queen Sono. DStv's new telenovela Legacy cleaned out the "Best Telenovela" category. Acclaimed actress Michelle Botes added to Legacy's multiple wins by taking home the "Best Supporting Actress in a Telenovela" award.

Last but not least, storytelling legend Dr. Gcina Mhlophe was conferred with the biggest title of the night — the "Lifetime Achievement Award". The award was a long-overdue acknowledgement of her on and off-screen contributions to South Africa's oral tradition of storytelling which has entertained and educated the nation for decades.

Read: The Top 2021 South African Film And Television Awards (SAFTAs) Nominees

MultiChoice (DSTV) scored a tremendous 47 awards, while first time entrant Netflix gathered an impressive 19 nods out of its total 45 nominations. The awards took on a virtual setting and were hosted by the vibrant LaSizwe Dambuza alongside radio personality Lerato Kganyakgo.

Here are some Twitter reactions to the SAFTAs which ran from Friday to Saturday night.

Below is the complete list of the 2021 SAFTAs winners:

Best Short Film

Address Unknown (Green Leaf Films Pty) Ltd)

Best Student Film

Fowl Goblin from The Animation School


Best Achievement in Directing — Telenovela

Gomora Season 1 (Mzansi Magic)

Practitioners: Thabang Moleya, Nthabiseng Mokoena, Nozipho Nkelemba and Lefuno Nekhabambe

Best Achievement in Directing — TV Soap

Binnelanders (kykNET)

Practitioners: Danie Joubert, Roché Knoesen, Riaan Meij, Charl van Biljon, Gerrit Schoonhoven & Jaco Vermeulen

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – Telenovela

The River (1Magic)

Practitioners: Gwydion Beynon & Phathutshedzo Makwarela

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Soap

Scandal! (E.tv)

Practitioners: Ameera Patel, Grace Mahlaba, Daryn Katz, Kelly Robinson, Mark Wilson, Nontlantla Simelane, Omphile Molusi, Rosalind Butler, Stephen Simm, Tereska Muishond, Themba Mahlangu, Myolisi Sikupela and Thomas Hall

Best Achievement in Original Music/Score – Telenovela

The River (1Magic)

Practitioner: Brendan Jury

Best Achievement in Editing – Telenovela

The River (1Magic)

Practitioners: Bongi Malefo, Edgar Sibaya, Sphiwe Nhlumayo and Ula Oelsen

Best Achievement in Sound — TV Soap/Telenovela

The River (1Magic)

Practitioners: Ben Oelsen and Tladi Mabuya

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Telenovela

Legacy (M-Net)

Practitioner: Trevor Brown

Best Achievement in Wardrobe — TV Soap/Telenovela

Legacy (M-Net)

Practitioner: Zandile Mncwango

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling — TV Soap/Telenovela

Legacy (M-Net)

Practitioner: Jenny Sprawson

Best Achievement in Art Direction — TV Soap/Telenovela

Legacy (M-Net)

Practitioner: Amanda Scholtz

Best Actress – Telenovela

Sindi Dlathu, The River (1Magic)

Character: Lindiwe Dikana

Best Actor – Telenovela

Menzi Ngubane, Isibaya (Mzansi Magic)

Character: Judas Nqwenya

Best Supporting Actress – Telenovela

Michelle Botes, Legacy (M-Net)

Character: Angelique Price

Best Supporting Actor – Telenovela

Meshack Mavuso Magabane, The River (1Magic)

Character: Nsizwa

Best Actress – TV Soap

Petronella Tshuma, Rhythm City (etv)

Character: Pearl Genaro

Best Actor – TV Soap

Clint Brink, Binnelanders (kykNET)

Character: Steve Abrahams

Best Supporting Actress – TV Soap

Masasa Mbangeni, Scandal (etv)

Character: Thembeka Shezi Nyathi

Best Supporting Actor – TV Soap

Mothusi Magano, Skeem Saam (SABC 1)

Character: Tumishang

Best TV Soap

Rhythm City (etv)

Production House: Quizzical Pictures

Best Telenovela

Legacy (M-Net)

Production House: Tshedza Pictures


Best Achievement in Directing – TV Drama

Tydelik Terminaal (kykNET)

Practitioners: Etienne Fourie and Elanie Rupping

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Drama

Housekeepers Season 2 (Mzansi Magic)

Practitioners: Portia Gumede, Duduzile Mabaso, Lufuno Nemungadi and Lidudu Malingani

Best Achievement in Editing — TV Drama

Still Breathing (M-Net)

Practitioners: Miriam Arndt and Alistair Thomas

Best Achievement in Sound – TV Drama

Blood and Water Season 1 (Netflix)

Practitioners: Sound & Motion Studios Sound Team

Best Achievement in Original Music/Score – TV Drama

Lockdown Season 5 (Mzansi Magic)

Practitioners: Kurt Slabbert, Jamela Vuma & Mandla Ngcongwane

Best Achievement in Art Direction – TV Drama

Agent (Netflix)

Practitioner: Carlu Portwig

Best Achievement in Wardrobe – TV Drama

Queen Sono Season 1 (Netflix)

Practitioners: Lehasa Molloyi

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling – TV Drama

Trackers (Mzansi Magic)

Practitioner: Babalwa Mtshiselwa

Best Achievement in Cinematography – TV Drama

Blood and Water Season 1 (Netflix)

Practitioner: Zenn van Zyl

Best Actress – TV Drama

Kate Liquorish, Still Breathing (M-Net)

Character: Abi

Best Actor – TV Drama

Brandon Auret, Still Breathing (M-Net)

Character: Danny

Best Supporting Actress – TV Drama

June van Merch, Sara se Geheim Season 3 (kykNET)

Character: Sara

Best Supporting Actor – TV Drama

James Ngcobo, Queen Sono Season 1 (Netflix)

Character: President Malunga

Best TV Drama

Blood and Water Season 1 (Netflix)

Production House: Gambit Films


Best Achievement in Directing – TV Comedy

The Riviera (SABC 2)

Practitioners: Lucilla Blankenberg & Lederle Bosch

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy

Black Tax (BET Africa)

Practitioners: Byron Abrahams, Lwazi Mvusi, Joshua Rous & Meren Reddy

Best Achievement in Editing – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioners: Tessa Verfuss, Gugulethu Sibandze & Melanie Jankes

Best Achievement in Sound – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioners: Janno Muller, Thapelo Makhubo, Jeanre Greyling and Jonty Everton

Best Achievement in Art Direction – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioners: Martha Sibanyoni, Thabiso Senne & Savannah Geldenhuys

Best Achievement in Wardrobe – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioner: Sheli Masondo

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioner: Babalwa Mtshiselwa

Best Achievement in Cinematography – TV Comedy

How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Practitioner: Lance Gewer

Best Actress – TV Comedy

Busisiwe Lurayi, How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Character: Tumi

Best Actor – TV Comedy

James Borthwick, Hotel (kykNET)

Character: Ferdie

Best Supporting Actress – TV Comedy

Martelize Kolver, Hotel (kykNET)

Character: Brenda

Best Supporting Actor – TV Comedy

Desmond Dube, How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding (Netflix)

Character: Shadrack

Best TV Comedy

The Riviera (SABC 2)

Production House: Community Media Trust


Best Achievement in Directing – Documentary

How to Steal a Country

Practitioners: Rehad Desai and Mark Kaplan

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Documentary

Chasing the Sun

Practitioner: Devin Carter

Best Achievement in Editing – Documentary

How to Steal a Country

Practitioner: Megan Gill

Best Achievement in Sound – Documentary Feature

Documentary Feature – How to Steal a Country

Practitioner: Charlotte Buys

Best Documentary Feature

How to Steal a Country

Production House: Uhuru Productions

Best Documentary Short

Lindela Under Lockdown

Production House: Passion Seed Communications

Best Made for TV Documentary

Chasing the Sun

Production House: SuperSport, SA Rugby and T+W

Best Natural History and Environmental Programme

My Octopus Teacher

Production House: Sea Change Project

Best Children's Programme

Takalani Sesame Season 11 (SABC 2)

Production House: Ochre Media and Pulp Films

Best Competition Reality Show

Celebrity Mystery Box (Mzansi Magic)

Production House: Brightfire Pictures

Best Structured or Docu-reality Show

Pale Ya Koša (SABC 2)

Production House: Full Circle Productions

Best Structured Soapie Reality Show

Life with Kelly Khumalo (Showmax)

Production House: Barleader TV

Best International Format Show

Hoor my, sien my, soen my (kykNET)

Production House: Afrokaans Film & Television

Best Educational Programme

Made In SA Season 6 (S3)

Production House: Ochre Media

Best Factual Programme

The Devi Show (etv)

Production House: etv

Best Current Affairs Programme

CARTE BLANCHE: Women's Month Special (M-Net)

Production House: Combined Artists

Best Variety Show

Republiek van Zoid Afrika (kykNET)

Production House: Brainwave Productions

Best Youth Programme

Africa's Biggest Brags (MTV Base)

Production House: VIS

Best Entertainment Programme

Maak My Famous – Showcase (kykNET)

Production House: All Star Entertainment

Best Lifestyle Programme

Come Again (SABC 1)

Production House: Tshedza Media

Best Made for TV Movie

Loving Thokoza (Mzansi Magic)

Production House: Black Brain Pictures

Best Online Content

The Adventures of Noko Mashaba - Lockdown Shandis (YouTube)

Production House: Rams Comics

Best Achievement in Directing – Feature Film

Griekwastad (kykNET)

Practitioner: Jozua Malherbe

Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – Feature Film

Toorbos (kykNET)

Practitioner: René van Rooyen

Best Achievement in Cinematography – Feature Film

Riding with Sugar (Netflix)

Practitioner: Rory O'Grady

Best Achievement in Sound Design – Feature Film

Riding with Sugar (Netflix)

Practitioner: Sound & Motion Studios Sound Team

Best Achievement in Original Music/Score – Feature Film

Toorbos (kykNET)

Practitioner: Andries Smit

Best Achievement in Editing – Feature Film

Griekwastad (kykNET)

Practitioner: Lucian Barnard

Best Achievement in Production Design – Feature Film

Riding with Sugar (Netflix)

Practitioner: Kate van der Merwe

Best Achievement in Costume Design – Feature Film

Riding with Sugar (Netflix)

Practitioner: Annie Seegers

Best Achievement in Make-Up and Hairstyling – Feature Film

Triggered (Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play)

Practitioners: Menio Kalymnios, Stella Kalymnios and Hannes Oosthuizen

Best Actress – Feature Film

Tinarie Van Wyk Loots, Gat In Die Muur (Hole In The Wall) (Netflix)

Character: Ava

Best Actor – Feature Film

Tshamano Sebe, 8 (Netflix)

Character: Lazarus

Best Supporting Actress – Feature Film

Tarryn Wyngaard, Stam (DSTV Box office)

Character: Samiah

Best Supporting Actor – Feature Film

Hakeem Kae Kazim, Riding with Sugar (Netflix)

Character: Mambo

Best Feature Film


SCENE23 (kykNET)

Best TV Presenter (Public Vote Category)

Entle Bizana, Hectic on 3 (SABC 3)

Most Popular TV Soap/Telenovela (Public Vote Category)

Gomora, Seriti Films (Mzansi Magic)

Photo by Ransford Quaye.

Fun Places in Accra, Ghana to Visit This Weekend

From Winged Wednesdays at Cachie & Cachie to Open Field Day at Bambo’s Adventure Park, Accra is packed with places to have fun.

This weekend is packed with places to have fun at! Enjoy unlimited wings, sides, and free drinks at a cool new restaurant, or sign up for a “Capture the Flag” paintball tournament with your entire squad. Whatever your choice of fun is, here is a list of places to visit this weekend in Accra, Ghana.

Right from the midweek all through to the weekend, here is a list of fun places to visit in Accra, Ghana.

Winged Wednesdays at Cachie & Cachie

Cachie & Cachie is a budding restaurant and bar located at East Legon, Accra that offers a diverse culinary experience. However, despite their distinct menu we’re here to highlight their signature weekly attraction - unlimited wings! Yes, you heard right, unlimited. Cachie & Cachie offers unlimited wings and sides every Wednesday evening for a flat rate that’s easy on the pockets. Also, show up early for a free mocktail from 6 - 6:30 p.m. only.

Date: Wednesday, 24th May, 6 - 10 p.m.

Venue: Cachie & Cachie, West Legon

Cost: From GHC85

Happy Hour at The Honeysuckle

The Honeysuckle is a popular sports bar themed after the famous British sports bars across the United Kingdom. Well known for its great food and ambiance, The Honeysuckle is regarded as one of the best spots in Accra for after-work leisure. On Thursdays, you can pass by to enjoy discounted food and drinks during Happy Hour. Also, there are multiple Honeysuckle locations in Accra, so take your pick, have a drink, and watch your favorite sports match for your pre-weekend unwind.

Date: Thursday, 25th May, 2-5 p.m.

Venue: The Honeysuckle, all locations

Junkie’s Burgers New Location Launch

If you’re a foodie and you haven’t tried Junkie’s Burgers, what are you doing? Junkie’s Burgers is home to Accra’s Best Burgers, and they’ll be launching a brand new location on Thursday. The new Junkie’s will be at Labone, so pass through for Junkie’s signature Fully Loaded Burger or any burger of your choice. Vegetarian options are also available.

Date: Thursday, 25th May

Venue: Junkie’s Burgers, Labone

Open Space at Kukun

Open Space is a conversation platform that periodically hosts panel-type conversations on intriguing subject matter facing young Africans across the world. It’s comparable to a live podcast, and their events are free to attend. Their mandate is “building and connecting Africans across the world through honest conversations,” and their conversations are intriguing, thought-provoking, and sometimes even humorous. This week’s topic is a hot one, so make sure to tap in for a night of great conversation.

Date: Friday, 26th May, 6 p.m.

Venue: Kukun, Osu

Cost: Free

“In Relation To Light” Exhibition at The Mix Design Hub

Curated by Mamoud Brimah, “In Relation To Light” is a solo exhibition featuring the work of Ghanaian illustrator and artist Michael Badger. The exhibition explores what constitutes true self-expression with a series of surrealist, figurative paintings depicting varying human emotions on a journey toward self-discovery. The artist involves these figurative subjects in an exploration of what it means to stand in the light.

Date: Friday, 26th May, 6 p.m.

Venue: The Mix Design Hub, Osu

Cost: Free

Dance Class at DWP Academy

For a dose of fun, great vibes, and some physical activity this weekend, you can sign up for a dance class at DWP Academy. Dance With a Purpose Academy is Accra’s most prominent dance studio, located at East Legon. DWP Academy dancers have featured in Beyonce music videos, performed alongside Usher at international festivals, and more. If you’re passionate about dance, DWP Academy is definitely a place to check out.

Date: Saturday, 27th May, 12:20 - 3:30 p.m.

Venue: Lizzy Sports Complex, East Legon

Cost: GHC50 for a session

The Awakening Live Recording Concert with Akesse Brempong

For fans of contemporary Christian music, there’s an event for you as well! Akesse Brempong, one of Ghana’s leading voices in the gospel music scene is hosting a live recording concert called “The Awakening: Anthems of Revival.”Other top gospel voices are on the bill as well, such as Pastor Isaiah Fosu Kwakye Jnr., MOG Music, Efe Grace, and Kofi Owusu Peprah, so it promises to be a night of gospel music excellence and one you definitely don’t want to miss.

Date: Saturday, 27th May, 4 p.m.

Venue: Empowerment Worship Centre, Achimota

Cost: Free, but register to attend

Vine Brunch

Vine Restaurant is a premium restaurant, bar, and lounge located at Labone. They offer a choice selection of continental and African dishes and drinks, and on Sunday you can catch the Vine Brunch for premium cocktails and mouth-watering dishes prepared by master chefs all throughout the day. Trust me, there’s no brunch like a Vine Brunch.

Date: Sunday, 28th May, 12:30 - 9 p.m.

Venue: Vine Restaurant, Labone

Open Field Day at Bambo’s Adventure Park

Bambo’s Adventure Park is a recreation center located at Labone, Accra. On the last Sunday of every month, they host Open Field Day, a fun games event. Their arena-style paintball tournament is the main attraction, however, there will be loads of other activities, as well as music, food, and drinks. Play capture the flag with a team of friends, or relax and unwind with board games at Bambo’s Adventure Park this weekend.

Date: Sunday, 28th May

Venue: Bambo’s Adventure Park, Labone

Cost: GHC180 per head


Interview: Nevermind the Legend Talk, Wande Coal Just Wants To Make Good Music

We talk to the Nigerian icon about his fourth studio album, Legend Or No Legend, his much-awaited collaboration with T-Pain, and being the blueprint for Afrobeats.

There is no Mount Rushmore of Afrobeats without Wande Coal. If there ever was an emblem for the hallmark of Afrobeats as we know it today, that emblem would have his face on it.

When Afrobeats slowly evolved from its hip-hop and R&B influences, shepherded by forerunners 2face and D’banj, Wande Coal emerged with arguably one of the most defining imprints on the Nigerian pop scene: his 2009 debut album, Mushin 2 Mo’hits.

Released under the Don Jazzy & D’Banj led Mo’hits record label, Mushin 2 Mo’Hits shot Wande Coal to instant superstardom, spawning hit singles such as “You Bad”, “Kiss Your Hand”, “Bumper To Bumper,” and much more. The sixteen-track album also set the blueprint for Afrobeats melodies, delivery, and the overall soundscape, eventually setting the stage for the rise of pop-icons such as Wizkid, Davido, and more.

It would take another six years after his debut before another Wande Coal album would see the light of day. After a drawn-out departure from Mo’Hits Records to start his own imprint, Black Diamond Entertainment, and an intermittent presence within the music scene, Wande Coal released his critically-acclaimed 2015 sophomore album, Wanted.

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Mr Eazi Launches New Group ChopLife Soundsystem

Listen to the new 14-song album Chop Life, Vol. 1 Mzansi Chronicles.

Mr Eazi, the acclaimed music superstar, business visionary, and globe-trotter, extends a heartfelt invitation to music enthusiasts to embark on a sonic journey to South Africa with the release of Chop Life, Vol. 1: Mzansi Chronicles (Choplife Limited/emPawa Africa), the inaugural offering from his newly-formed pan-African music collective, ChopLife Soundsystem.

Crafted amidst the vibrant locales of Cape Town and Johannesburg, this 14-track album serves as an exuberant tribute to amapiano, the electrifying dance music genre that has burst forth from South Africa and garnered international recognition. Joining forces with an excellent lineup of South African music luminaries such as Moonchild Sanelly, Focalistic, Nkosazana Daughter, Ami Faku, and Major League Djz, alongside a host of emerging talents, Mr Eazi presents his interpretation of the scene's captivating elements.

Mzansi Chronicles is an ode to the amapiano sound that has been the soundtrack to my parties and me going to clubs,” Mr Eazi said of the project. “It’s me working with some of my favorite artists and capturing my interpretation of elements I love from the scene.”

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Photo courtesy Directors’ Fortnight.

Rosine Mbakam on the Power of Family and Returning Home in Filmmaking

The Cameroonian filmmaker uses her documentary skills to create her first fictional feature, Mambar Pierrette, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week.

After a critically lauded career as a documentary filmmaker, writer/director Rosine Mbakam arrives at the Cannes Film Festival in the Directors’ Fortnight program with her first narrative feature: Mambar Pierrette. The film sees Mbakam returning to her homeland of Cameroon to tell the story of a dressmaker — Pierrette (Pierrette Aboheu Njeuthat) — as she deals with mounting financial calamities that threaten her children’s school year and the health of her business.

It’s a conceit that feels familiar to Vittorio De Sica’s film, but with a different, uniquely African touch. While Mbakam has switched mediums for this film, the story, and its translation is similar to the director’s previous films, such as Chez Jolie Coiffure, Delphin’s Prayer, and The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman in their focus on Black women who use their respective craft to cope with the hurdles they encounter. For Mambar Pierrette, Mbakam retools these familiar themes for Cameroon. The result indicates a change of direction for the filmmaker with regard to mood and tone, switching from ruminative to joyous, from staid to colorful and vibrant. Because all around Pierrette is life: It’s her children, it’s her village; it’s her vivid customers and the lively dresses she designs.

With Mambar Pierrette, Mbakam offers the unique cultural lens she’s spent nearly a decade crafting to give viewers a vision of radical empathy and a change in perspective. After having spent several years working in television, she attended film school in Belgium, where she is now based, before going on to create her first trio of feature-length documentaries that shared stories of Cameroonian women.

She talks to OkayAfrica about wanting to show a different Africa, making a film with her family, and subverting the traditions of Western filmmaking.

The interview below has been edited for length and clarity.

You’ve spent your career doing documentaries, but this is your first fictional film. Why did you feel you needed to switch for this particular story?

Fictional features were my first desire. I discovered documentaries when I was in film school. But my desire when I wanted to do cinema was to do features because it was what I was seeing on television in Cameroon. It was not documentaries. When I was in film school I really didn't know what kind of fiction I wanted to do. And when I discovered the documentary [form], it gave me a lot of freedom to be myself, to really experience what I wanted to, because I didn't want an intermediary between me and the people that I wanted to film.

Because of all the legacy of colonialism — I was in Belgium — I didn't want to use a white person or a person that didn't know what I wanted to question. But the documentary really helped me to deconstruct my gaze, and to just find my way and really see what kind of fiction I could do. Because the fiction that I learned in film school was Western fiction, and it was difficult for me to apply it in my reality in Cameroon. I'm really happy to come to my first desire of cinema, of doing fiction and really the fiction that I want to do with all the knowledge that I had from documentaries.

An image of the filmmaker, Rosine Mabakam, holding a microphone.Rosine Mabakam speaks at the premiere of her film in the Directors’ Fortnight program at the Cannes Film Festival.Photo courtesy Directors’ Fortnight / Delphine Pincet.

Your previous films are set in Belgium, but for this one you returned to Cameroon. Why did it make sense to return now?

Because when I was in Belgium I was there in the context of the legacy of colonialism. And I was confronting it every day. I wanted to really find my position there because I chose to live there, even though my inspiration was Cameroon. I wanted to deconstruct that and find my way because I knew that when I was deconstructing it that it would help me to see my reality differently. Because when I was in Cameroon, I was colonized. I didn't know I was reproducing all the things that I was seeing from the films I was watching in Cameroon. I wanted to discover how the rest of the world saw people like me in Belgium. It was important for me to deconstruct that first and to go back to Cameroon afterwards because I didn't want to reproduce the power of Western cinema on people that I wanted to film in Cameroon.

I love that you see it as a deconstruction of the image white people have of people from Cameroon or really any African country. You always get to the inner lives of the people you capture by looking at their craft. With Chez Jolie Coiffure, for instance, you focus on hairdressers. What draws you to a person's relationship with their craft, and why did you choose a dressmaker for this film?

In Cameroon, in my culture, all of those small spaces are where people come and drop stories and drop pain and also reconstruct their mental health. And I want to underline those spaces that sometimes people neglect because for them, maybe, it's not important. For me, for Chez Jolie Coiffure, with the hairdressers, it's the same thing. It's the space where women, and some men, come to just drop something and or take something.

I want to make people understand that sometimes it's not big spaces or important spaces that make us feel confident or that make us feel fine. I grew up in those smaller spaces. My mother was a dressmaker and my grand sister was her hairdresser. I really know those spaces and I know how it's built my imagery for stories of strong women. I wanted to show that.

I love the designs of the dresses; they’re so vibrant and vivid. What do they represent to you and to the character of Peirrette?

It's the dresses and how people can rebuild themselves through them. It's the space where your life can change with the world, with solidarity and also with love that people have brought to you through those spaces. You are surrounded not only by one woman, but by all these people who are coming. And yes, I really like fashion and also the colors.

In Cameroon, we don't have enough confidence in what we have. Even in fashion, we’re always looking at the West and how the West dresses without taking into account what we have. I wanted to show that it's beautiful and our story is important by just talking to ordinary people to show that even if we are ordinary, we have something important to say.

A still from the film of a group of women outside a rural dress shop.Rosine Mbakam’s first narrative feature is set in Cameroon.Photo courtesy Directors’ Fortnight.

The actress who plays Pierrette is your first cousin, correct? And it’s her first time acting?

It's not only my cousin. All of the cast are members of my family except for two people. But the rest are my mother, my aunts, my cousins, my sisters, my grand sisters.

Did you find it challenging directing people who you're not only related to but are in a situation where they’ve probably never acted before?

It's more challenging. There is a power in cinema and we know how that power has been used to stereotype Africans. I know the consequences of that power. And even more so with my family. Because they didn't really don't know what is the cinema, and how that power can be destructive. It's easy to take that power and to make them do what I want. It's important for me to be more vigilant and to give them the space to express themselves. That was really challenging because I had to be more careful about that.

With all of the travesties that befall Pierrette, a woman on an economic edge, I was really reminded of Vittorio De Sica’s films like Bicycle Thieves and Umberto D. And yet, you don’t remain on a track toward heartbreak like those films do. It’s almost like a De Sica film would be impossible to pull off because the idea of community is so present here?

I didn't feel it was possible to end like that because, usually, it doesn’t end like that in my family. With every problem you have people going together to resolve something, to bring joy, even if there is something very painful. For me, it was a perspective that I wanted to give to that story. And I wanted to give the perspective of that power that I can see in Pierrette and all of the members of my family. I wanted to show that power is higher than the difficulty. That was the intention behind that ending with the mannequin, and of all the neocolonialism that exists. Our power can overtake those problems.

A still from the film, 'Mambar Pierrette,' of a woman walking next to a girl carrying a bucket on her head.In ‘Mambar Pierrette,’ Rosine Mbakam enlisted family members for the film.Photo courtesy Directors’ Fortnight.

Her shop is also very small, yet open. Whenever Pierrette is making dresses, in the background you can see the street and you can see the life of her neighborhood. Could you talk a bit about why you framed her in that way as opposed, to say, close-ups?

If you see my film Chez Jolie Coiffure, you’ll notice it's really close. But if I close the perspective, here, it's not how we live in Cameroon. There is always a door open somewhere or someone can open the door to give you something, to give you help, to give a testimony. But in Chez Jolie Coiffure, in the West, Black people are closed into their space. In Cameroon it's different. There is always a perspective, there is always a solution. And I wanted to show that, to open that place, even if it's small. In Chez Jolie Coiffure, in the salon there is no door open anywhere. It's really close. It's like a prison. It's really close. In this film, it’s different. You can see the life of the earth coming, you can see light coming.

What do you hope people take away from this film when they’re finished?

I hope people will see another Africa and another way of filming Africa, another way to imagine Africa, and how we can look at Africa differently. I don't think we usually see that perspective, to be in the position of someone in Africa. I want people to be with these people and to help them understand what they want to say. I hope that people will watch the film and will remember the images and the words of this Black woman.

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