Category Archives: Review

Film Review: ‘Kapana’

Director: Philippe Talavera
Screenplay: Senga Brockerhoff, Mikiros Garoes
Cast: Adrino Visagie, Simon Hanga, Chanwill Vries, Elize de Wee, Mikiros Garoes, Jeremiah Jeremiah, Felicity Celento, Albertina Hainane, Foreversun Haiduwah, Lukas Paulus

Rating: ★★★

Apart from unapologetically taking male same-sex relationships to the silver screen, Philippe Talavera’s Kapana shows its worth by not deriding HIV. In so many ways the film is an intimate, charming queer-themed romantic drama which offers a fresh take on HIV/AIDS in the queer community.

Being another film from the activist group, Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO), Kapana can thrust HIV/AIDS onto the Namibian silver screen with its message of acceptance and love. Not problematic in delivering its message, the film was crafted with a compelling screenplay which helps make this a non-generic story that engages its audiences on a personal level.

Simon Hanga in Kapana

Kapana explores the love story between two Namibians who come from different walks of life. Award-winning actor Adriano Visagie stars in the film as George, an HIV positive gay man who falls in love with Simeon (Simon Hanga), a closeted Kapana (grilled beef strips) vendor. The film deserves applause for not relying on the popular and often true trope of homophobic, unsupportive family and friends. George, being an openly gay man receives great support and love from his family as seen through his mother (Felicity Celento), aunt (Elize de Wee), brother (Chanwill Vries) and coworkers played by Mikiros Garoes and Foreversun Haiduwah. The relationships between these friends and family offer a fresh and much-needed narrative on same-sex relationship, especially in Namibia which still criminalizes the sexual relationships between two men under the outdated sodomy law.

Simon Hanga and Adriano Visagie in Kapana.

Kapana is a win for director Talavera but most importantly because of his collaborative take on this film. He employed Senga Brockerhoff and Mikiros Garoes to craft the storyline and using one of the country’s best cinematographerS (Kit Hoffman) and film editors (Haiko Boldt) to put together the film. This film is in so many ways much better than the director’s 2018 film, Salute! and signals a lot of growth in the director’s film career.

While the film was put together impressively and its message communicated very smoothly, I can however not say the same about the performances which were stale and forced. This film had the potential of being very emotional and gripping, however, that aspect fell flat due to the lacklustre performances which I suppose come from the film requiring so much vulnerability that almost all actors just couldn’t pull off. ‘Fake acting’ and overacting does nothing but ruin films and Kapana had an abundance of this. Alas, it was refreshing to see newcomer actors Hanga and Vries give such stunning performances at their first go and equally refreshing to see the versatile side of de Wee.

But Kapana is worthy of your time and will give you a different look into queer relationships, relationships with someone living with HIV while highlighting the power of love.

If you want to see Kapana, there are still a couple of screenings at Ster Kinekor Grove Mall, Windhoek on 14 ,15 & 18 August 2020. Time:18:00. Price: N$60.00.

Film Review: ‘The Game’

Director: Jenny Kandenge
Screenplay: Jenny Kandenge
Cast: Girley Jazama, Bret Kamwi, Edo Dice, Roya Diehl, Bica Martin

Rating: ★★★

Think of the Saw franchise. But low budget and only 17 minutes in length. That’s The Game.

Although she is emerging in film, I have seen Jenny Kandenge deliver with her stage productions. Deliver as in she always find a way to rope one into her storytelling. When I first saw the trailer of The Game, however, I was not impressed. But in this short film, Kandenge managed to find a way for me to put a cork in it.

The Game follows Ndanki (Girley Jazama) and Nico (Bret Kamwi) as they find themselves locked in a room with two strangers Esme (Roya Diehl) and Greg (Edo Dice). Nobody knows how they got there, all they know is to leave, they have to play the game.

The film plays on the a-soul-for-your-freedom trope which forces its characters to panic and make tough decisions, or a decision for that matter. Locked in a small room, with a note, a clock, a surveillance camera and a gun, the characters give performances which forces one of them to sacrifice himself for the freedom of the others. At surveillance we meet Frankie (Bica Martin), which reveals the twist, and where the film also introduces a Get Out type of play- although to a lesser degree.

While the storyline doesn’t offer anything new, it is refreshing to see a Namibian thriller that is stitched well together with a surprisingly satisfying ending. The Game is worthy for the dialogue you can digest, the sadistic ending and cast performances- especially by Jazama.

The film doesn’t have any gore, which further differentiates it from the Saw movies. The Game is a fun thrill ride, especially since it was produced with a very low budget and shot in just 16 hours just before the entire country went on Covid-19 lockdown.

This is a game.

The Game is produced by Pegasus Entertainment Productions with funding from Goethe Institute Namibia and the Namibian Film Commission.

Theatre Review: Three Sisters

Director: Bret Kamwi
Playwright: Bret Kamwi
Cast: Melgisedek Nehemia, Xavier M, Diana Master, Penny Heelu, Kaarina Nambinga, Vaja Tjipueja, Taylo Mannetti.

Rating: ★★★

Three Sisters basks in glorious blasphemy and if you are one of those people who get dragged to prophetic churches by your family (like I am), you will recognise the overly spiritual sisters and the confidently dramatic prophets who make up prophetic churches.

Bret Kamwi debuted his religious satire, Three Sisters on Thursday to a sold-out venue at the National Theatre of Namibia and boy was it a… thing! For the average religious person, the entire plot might seem like pure blasphemy but for the heathens who walk the earth, Three Sisters could be fun- especially if they are critical of prophets.

The ultimate concept of the Three Sisters isn’t bad in itself. The play has a West African/Nollywood feel to it, I guess when it has to do with shady religion it has to be Nollywood inspired. But the play is a first of its kind for Namibia and that warrants applause.

Three Sisters opened with a religious service setup, complete with the supporting wives, the prophet and the audience serving as congregation members. Some cast members were also planted in the audience and some audience members even stood up and rejoiced as the prophet, played by Melgisedek Nehemia, made his entrance supported by a live piano. For a moment it felt like I was at a church somewhere in Katutura.

Everything about the ‘service’ segment was accurate, at least for those of us who have been to a prophetic church, complete with the ‘magical’ healing to the posture of the sisters and the prophet’s delivery of the ‘message’. I actually liked that portion of the play. It was funny and refreshing.

It is from the second scene where things started getting weird. Don’t get me wrong, I do love some intrigue in stories- it keeps you on the edge. It was Xavier M’s portrayal of Chaze (the undercover reporter) that made me question the entire premise of the play. Chaze was very upfront about her intentions- you could see it on her face and actions. If she was a bit subtle and less ‘investigative’ the character would have sold me. I couldn’t wrap my head around how none of the sisters picked up on her intentions when she was being very obvious with them, even when they were all in the same room. Also, Chaze was a very unprepared girl who came to the prophet’s house with only one outfit. Throughout the entire play everyone changes but our dear heroine remains in her pink blouse and black shorts.

87954564_3385612388175867_6506840977737515008_o

Then there was the dialogue. I get it. You get carried away when you write these things. I do too. You write and you write and you write and it just goes on and on- it becomes very tedious when not even the characters are interesting enough to keep it going. The mind-numbing revelations and conversations proved to be a real miss because even the first bunch of audience members who stood up in cheer to welcome the prophet at the beginning, didn’t do the same during the second ‘service’ scene.

Oh, and I love a good queer representation in the entertainment and I commend Kamwi for squeezing in a lesbian storyline between Chaze and Mona (played by Vaja Tjipueja). The issue for me was with the whole ‘squeezing’ in part. Some good ironing out and ongoing chemistry between the two characters would’ve made for a less stiff interaction between them.

Props to the actors Diana Master and Nehemia for delivering their characters with zest, they really took one out of the deep end. Penny Heelu, Kaarina Nambinga and Taylo Mannetti also gave their characters justice, making for some witty lines.

Three Sisters is a worthy play thanks to incorporating queer representation in a religious setting, performances by its cast, attention to detail with setup and costumes, that piano player (yes!), directing and literally taking that leap of faith by interrogating religion in a ‘Christian’ nation like Namibia.

For someone like my mother and every other Nollywood-loving older woman I know, Three Sisters will be a treat, but they might walk out of the theatre questioning the morals of ‘today kids’.

Three Sisters is still on stage tonight (06 March) and tomorrow (7 March) at NTN Backstage. All performances start at 20h00. General tickets are charged at N$80 and students and senior citizens tickets are discounted at N$50. Tickets are available via Computicket outlets countrywide.

(IMAGES: National Theatre of Namibia/Facebook)

Theatre Review: ‘For Coloured Girls’

Director: Jenny Kandenge
Playwright: Ntozake Shange
Musical Director: Lize Ehlers
Choreographer: Nikhita Winkler
Cast: Odile Gertze, Counney Kemp, Christell Nassauw, Diana Master, Jeanne-Danae Januarie, Rencha Murere, Xaverie M

Rating: ★★★★

Director Jenny Kandenge’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf is a radical activist piece of theatre paying homage to the late Ntozake Shange and oppressed women the world over.

The production, impeccably stitched together in moving monologues, euphonious musical delivery and heart-wrenching acting delivery is a feast for the poetry lover which solidifies the unity of women, especially in the face of adversity in form of sexism and racism.

From the onset, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf screams women empowerment, self-love, courage and passion. The choreopoem is performed by seven women identified only by the colour of their clothing; Lady in Orange (Odile Gertze), Lady in Green (Counney Kemp),  Lady in Yellow (Diana Master), Lady in Red (Christell Nassauw) Lady in Brown (Rencha Murere), Lady in Purple (Jeanne-Danae Januarie), and Lady in Blue (Xaverie M). With most of the cast being first-time actors, expectations idle, especially considering the emotional, mental and speech required for a production like this. However, upon opening night, these seven women gave a stellar performance and one couldn’t help but connect with the women as they share stories of rape, sexual awakening and courage in a poetic manner.

FCG1
POWERFUL WOMEN: The cast of For Coloured Girls… (Images: Experiences Photos)

The mood in the National Theatre of Namibia’s auditorium was engaging and as the women revealed the dilemma of being a woman, especially, a black woman, intense emotions of guilt, sympathy and anger built-up because not only was this classic piece relevant in 76′ but the headlines of today remain the same as violence against women, at the hands of men, is still on the rise.

FCGG
Xaverie M, Diana Master and Odile Gertze in For Coloured Girl…

Previously Kandenge vowed to stick to Shange’s 1976 version, however, the to keep the Namibian-ness, the cast spoke in their natural tones and no weird ‘Afro-American’ accent was heard and I must say, it was well-executed. Add the musical element by Lize Ehlers and her band and the rhythmic movements choreographed by Nikhita Winkler, and Kandenge’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf is piece even Shange herself would’ve been proud of.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf will show for two more nights at the National Theatre of Namibia, 29 and 30 November. Tickets are available at Computicket for N$100.

Theatre Review- ‘Die Stoep’

Director: Jonathan Sasha
Playwright: Jonathan Sasha
Cast: Rachardt Mostert, Bianca Heyns, Ethan Januarie, Rodelio Lewis, Chantal Magano Kambrude, Petrus Johannes Majiedt, Jan-Dre van Vuuren, Vernon Sawyers.

Rating: ★★★

Whose voice torments Jantjie (Mostert) as he sits pitifully on his ‘stoep’? Is it the voice of God? Is it his conscience? No, it’s the voice of corruption most foul and soon to be his undoing.

A ‘stoep’ is different things to different people. It is a place of respite from the unforgiving heat for some, or a vantage point for a neighbourhoods’ nosy neighbour to best collect her/his gossip.

DIe stoep pic
Rachardt Mostert as ‘Jantjie’ in Die Stoep. (Image: National Theatre of Namibia)

But for Jonathan Sasha, ‘Die Stoep’ on Erf 8 on Plaaitjiesheuwel, Koës, it is the center stage for dysfunctional families who helplessly try to navigate their way through the tumultuous waters of life but find themselves weighed down by the anchors; alcohol abuse, depression and the philandering Dominee Pieters (Majiedt)  who must have skipped verse in the bible that states “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.

Sasha’s theatre debut play follows the lives of Jantjie and Sara (Heyns) after the death of their mother. The former is forced to assume the duty of a surrogate mother to her Jantjie, whose arrested development is compounded by his alcoholism and the need to assert his dominance over a household he doesn’t provide for.

Apart from failing to be the ‘man of the house’, Jantjie also fails at being a good father for his teenage son, Boetitjie (Januarie) who lives with his toxic mother, Lucille (Kambrude) who merely uses him as a meal ticket by means of child support. Cue in Sara’s gay best friend, Koba, portrayed by Lewis, and it’s your typical dysfunctional family.

As art attempts to imitate life, Die Stoep not only highlights alcoholism but also highlights depressions, suicide and homophobia. Jantjie’s woeful self-introspection on the stoep is a sight many of us have come to experience at one time or another, no matter the vices or demons we face.

While one may have sought for depth in some of the characters, such as the Dominee and Ouderling Tina (van Vuuren), an aspect that needs to be appreciated is the cast and their ability to embody their characters. Lewis as Koba was the star of the show as he effortlessly quipped back at the homophobic Dominee, much to the delight of the audience. His fun and flirty air make one wish he had more of a leading role instead of merely supporting, but I digress.

76747424_3005075919562851_9068382446851981312_o
Rodelio Lewis and Bianca Heyns as Koba and Sara in Die Stoep. (Image: National Theatre of Namibia)

Unfortunately, while the comical scenes elicited the response from the audience they sought to, and the acting being far better than anticipated from a relatively new cast, the more emotional scenes which aimed at being tearjerkers didn’t quite hit the mark. The flow of the play was coherent and transitions from one scene to the other were good until the suicide scene which seemed to be rushing to a conclusion.

Yes, Jantjie was downtrodden but that struggle and the negativity from the voice in his head did not lay enough of a foundation for one to conclude that he would take his life. Perhaps that was intentional in that in real life we sometimes never fully see one’s suffering until they take the drastic measure of ending their life.

Setting itself apart and redeeming itself where it lacked depth, Sasha’s Die Stoep came with an orchestra that played the soundtrack of the play which was impressive and enhanced the ambience of the play.

If you don’t understand Afrikaans, you will be missing out on a wonderful play, but chin up because if Die Stoep is anything to go by, things can only get better for Sasha in the theatre fraternity.

Film Review: #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm

Director: Tim Huebschle
Screenplay: Tim Huebschle
Cast: Elize de Wee, Pieter Greeff, Armas Shivute, Ralf Boll, Khadijah Mouton

Rating: ★★★★

Apart from the epic cinematography and great directing, Tim Huebschle ‘s crime thriller #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm is a good film thanks to the effort put in documenting a historical era, with precise attention to detail.

The look and the feel captured by the film’s cinematographer and editor, Haiko Boldt, are heightened by an array of crime scenes and investigative procedures, which draws one into this cinematic delight.

The film sets off with Meisie Willemse (Elize de Wee) waking with a pounding head in the middle of a traffic intersection, after getting knocked unconscious while she was trying to help a passed-out prostitute. The torso of the same prostitute is found in a dry river bed the following day.

shivute_meisiewillemse
Armas Shivute and Elize de Wee in #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (Images: #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm)

As Willemse starts her investigation, she meets a journalist named Piet Potgieter (Pieter Greeff) who knows Meisie’s about a crime Willemse committed in her youth. He threatens to expose her past and destroy her life if she does not leak all information relating to the murder. Adding to this, when another murder is committed, it is found the murder was committed with Willemse’s service pistol- which was taken from whoever knocked her unconscious at the beginning of the film. This, in turn, leads to Meisie being discharged from her duties.

#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm takes its thin and predictable storyline and turns it into a gripping crime mystery. De Wee is the best and worst thing in the film. As seen in the movie’s promotional material, de Wee is in a continuous straight face and she keeps this throughout the entire 95 minutes of the film. Her poker face might be the least convincing thing in the film, which pioneers the crime mystery genre in Namibia.

Despite this, de Wee’s portrayal of the rugged cop with a drinking problem is spot-on, so much so that this might just be her breakout performance. Then there is Greeff, who sold Potgieter, a terrifying and horrifying villain, expertly paired alongside the tough Willemse.

pietpotgieter
Pieter Greeff In #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm.

The narrative of #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm is well carried by easy-flowing dialogue, and barely, if ever, made for any uncomfortable moments, which is unmissable in many locally-produced films.

Some cast members who stood out were Khadijah Mouton as the young prostitute who gets kidnapped, Muhindua Kaura as the strict and no-nonsense police chief, Ralf Boll as the brilliant and orderly Forensic Pathologist, Armas Shivute as Willemse’s partner, Joalette de Villiers as a racist store owner from the 1980’s and Chantell Uiras as the young Willemse (aka Charmaine). These talented stars understood that the story would go down smoother if their characters were nuanced human beings and they did just that.

Apart from sounding like a Namibian film, the cinematography really made for some of the best moments, which is thanks to the beautiful landscapes of Windhoek and Namibia as a whole. Although, the close-up shots are a little too many to the point they become irksome.

This visually stunning Namibian feature cements Huebschle as one of the best filmmakers the country has to offer.

Film Review: ‘Baxu and the Giants’

Director: Florian Schott
Screenplay: Florian Schott & Girley Jazama
Cast: Camilla Jo-Ann Daries, Wafeeq /Narimab, Anna Louw, Robert Hara#gaeb, West Uarije, Steven Afrikaner, Ashwyn Mberi

Rating: ★★★★

If you were worried Baxu and the Giants is an overhyped, terrible film, don’t be, because  Baxu and the Giants is a remarkable short film that lives up to its expectation.

Baxu333
Camilla Jo-Ann Daries and Wafeeq /Narimab in Baxu and the Giants. (Image: Baxu and the Giants)

This emotional 29-minute long short film directed by Florian Schott follows 9-year old !ubaxu (Camilla Jo-Ann Daries), who lives in impoverished Damaraland with her alcoholic grandmother (Anna Louw) and older brother Khata (Wafeeq /Narimab). Khata is offered a ‘golden’ opportunity involving rhino poaching by his neighbour (Robert Hara#gaeb). Khata affords his family an easier lifestyle by being involved in rhino poaching.

When looking at the synopsis, one could more or less predict the ending to Baxu and the Giants, however, the film has a sincerity challenging us not to dismiss it, thanks largely to exceptional acting capabilities by its charming 10-year-old lead, Daries and her co-stars and the film’s production value. Daries literally breaks into her first role by delivering her character with the contentment, empathy and curiosity of a child, which allows her to effectively bring out the emotional core of the film.

Baxu222
Camilla Jo-Ann Daries and Anna Louw in Baxu and the Giants (Image: Baxu and the Giants)

While allowing us to witness the daily reality of rhino poaching, Schott and his co-writer Girley Jazama moulded the characters of Baxu and the Giants into real people who are easily identifiable and not just plothole fillers. Baxu’s deep relationship with wildlife is highlighted through recurring dreams Baxu has of King Rhino (voiced by Ashywn Mberi) warning her about her brother’s wrongdoing. These moments are perfectly devised in live-action animation.

Director of Photography Kit Hoffmann and Editor Robert Scott made sure the film delivers good camera and editing work from the opening with an epic cross-cut scene of the time of the hunter-gatherers falling in-sync with prehistoric rock paintings, leading up to the very end.

With the most interior scenes shot in Windhoek, set design by Tanya Stroh convincingly helped in telling the story of a poor north-western Namibia household. Despite some inept acting moments from conversations between Khata and Baxu, Baxu and the Giants is a good quality short film with a positive message.

The film is produced by Andrew Botelle and executively produced by Willem Odendaal (Legal Assistance Namibia).

Film Review: ‘Hairareb’ Thrives On Strong Ending And Its Stars

Director: Oshoveli Shipoh
Screenplay: Aina Kwedhi
Cast: David Ndjavera, Claudine de Groot, Hazel Hinda and Kadeen Kaoseb, Willem Egbert Moller, Bianca Heyns, Naomunic Feris, Moria Kambrudes

Rating: ★★★

Hairareb, based on a book by August C. Bikeur which was later adapted into a well-known-and loved Khoekhoegowab radio drama, is a passable film surviving only on its emotional ending and the strikingly expressive performances delivered by its four leading actors David Ndjavera, Claudine de Groot, Hazel Hinda and Kadeen Kaoseb.

Both Hairareb (Ndjavera) and /Ininis (de Groot) enter their marriage with murky intentions. Hairareb, who is troubled by the effects of a devastating drought enters a mutually beneficial trade involving /Ininis with her alcoholic stepfather (Willem Egbert Moller). /Ininis, on the other hand, has her life complicated by her galling young boyfriend, !Nausub (Kaoseb). When Hairareb and /Ininis unexpectedly fall in love with each other, things take a turn for the worse.

Hairareb which falls within the ‘tragic romance’ genre, opens with a very interestingly welcoming monologue by (from, rather) Hairareb. That opening was in Khoekhoegowab with English subtitles and was voiced by Hosni Jr Sidney Narib and not by Ndjavera who plays Hairareb. From this onset, the high hopes I had for the film started to shatter. Casting Ndjavera for the role of Hairareb might have been deliberate, but I am pretty sure with his calibre and strong theatre background, Ndjavera would’ve easily rehearsed and delivered his character’s introductory monologue.

Screen Shot 2019-09-02 at 6.35.15 PM
David Ndjavera and Willem Egbert Moller in Hairareb.

The 1h55-minute-long film continues in English throughout, apart from some Khoekhoegowab words here and there. As much as I understand that the producers want to reach an international audience, telling the story in Khoekhoegowab with English subtitles wouldn’t have ruined those chances (particularly for this film)- our immediate neighbour South Africa tells the majority of their films in their local languages and these films are great, mostly. The acting, specifically from the supporting cast, would’ve been much better if they spoke in their mother-tongues.

Apart from this missed opportunity, director Oshoveli Shipoh had exceptional moments in his film. First, casting the self-confessed video vixen de Groot in her first ever movie is commendable. De Groot gave a stellar performance alongside Ndjavera and Hinda,-two of Namibia’s most talented and longest practising thespians. Then there was the love-making scene between Hairareb and /Ininis and the fighting scene between Hairareb and !Nausub in which the very pregnant /Ininis is injured- this was the real kicker.

The Ndapunikwa Investments produced film also has some melodramatic twists here and there, but they are trivial and not worth mentioning. The screenplay, written by Aina Kwedhi gave the film humdrum dialogue which made some scenes come off as very superficial. Doing justice to its ‘drought-stricken’ plotline, Hairareb was shot at Okarundu and Otjimbingwe which perfectly presented the film in the arid landscape it is meant for.

All in all, Hairareb manages to be engaging due to its stars, popularity with older audiences who know and loved the radio drama and it will most definitely pull heartstrings in some unexpected places, especially leading up to the end.

Hairareb had its Namibian premiere in Windhoek at Ster Kinekor Grove and Maerua on the 30th and 31st August 2019. The film was produced by Dantagos Jimmy-Melani and Ellen Ernst.

Theatre Review: Every Woman- A Celebration Of Women

Director: Senga Brockerhoff
Playwright: Senga Brockerhoff
Musical Director: Lize Ehlers
Cast: Senga Brockerhoff, Lavinia Kapewasha, JD Januarie, Chantell //Uiras, Lize Ehlers, Jennifer Timbo, Heather ‘Miss H’ Dennis, Mikiros //Garoes

Just like Pitch Perfect, Malcolm D. Lee’s Girls Trip and all the many chick-flicks I have seen and would still watch over and over again, Senga Brockerhoff’s theatre musical Every Woman is a comical treat of tough love and real talk.

The premise is a bridal shower with women of different personalities, desires and experiences talking about motherhood, men, married sex life, sex between queer women- the play really thrives on jokes about intimacy. But it isn’t raunchy- which was good. Brockerhoff made sure to fuse smart, sexy and funny dialogue which made all characters unique and likeable.

With Every Woman being a female-centric piece, it doesn’t ride too much on values of radical feminism- rather, Every Woman a buddy comedy giving the audience touché moments throughout.

Every Womna
A scene from Every Woman (Image: Sue Niewoudt/NTN)

The music was nostalgic and performances stellar. Lize Ehlers as the pregnant Ruth opened with a lively, comedic and cute ‘Moenie’ (which she wrote). Grace (Chantell //Uiras) was convincing as the overworked and underpaid assistant and her cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5′ added substance to the character.

Lavinia Kapewasha fit the role of Vivian like a glove- Vivian is cold and bossy but very likeable. She is a broken woman with a harsh take on life- or men in general. Kapewasha’s performance of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ was as dramatic and magnificent as expected.

Brockerhoff as Amanda proved she’s a woman of many talents in her rendition of Madonna’s ‘Another Suitcase in Another Hall’, while Heather ‘Miss H’ Dennis hypnotized in her cover of The Temptations’ ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’. The snaps between Amanda and Dennis’s character, Maxine, heated the room as the sexual tension between the two became more and more undeniable.

Bride-to-be, Amelia’s (JD Januarie) post-commitment nerves are perfectly explained in Januarie’s rendition of Cher’s version of ‘The Shoop Shoop Song‘, while Mikiros Garoes elevated the level of nostalgia with Brenda Fassie’s ‘Weekend Special’. Jennifer Timbo who performed a cover of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Am What I Am’ impressed with her hippy character, Mitzy and added more funny moments and flair to piece.

The music gave an enormous boost to the storyline and without it, the dialogue wouldn’t have fared as well as it did, so props to Brockerhoff and Ehlers on making the decision to give each character a song which fits them. Creatively, the piece was perfect as the lighting design accommodated the musical elements and Lila Swanepoel’s set design was done neatly to support the chemistry between the characters.

Every Woman was on stage at the National Theatre of Namibia from 1 to 3 August 2019.

Film Review: ‘The White Line’

Director: Desiree Kahikopo
Screenplay: Micheal Pulse
Cast: Girley Jazama, Jan-Barend Scheepers, Sunet van Wyk, Cheez Uahupirapi

Rating: ★★★

The White Line has a message to share and sure as hell cannot wait to get it done and over with.

Filled with all the right ingredients for a colonial romantic drama, The White Line could’ve easily been a great film, if it weren’t for the way the writing, editing, acting and cinematography came together.

The editing really ruins this beautiful love story, cutting from scene to scene, often introducing trivial information which has little effect on the main storyline. The apartheid era, (which the film is set in), is painful for many Namibians and the idea of a forbidden love story blooming during that time easily has an appealing effect. However, a few kiss scenes here and there does not really make a tearjerker- which is something The White Line evidently tried to achieve but failed in.

Casting Girley Jazama as the anguished domestic worker, Sylvia Kamutjemo, was expertly done. Jazama really sells pain and grief. Whether she’s just a good cry-on-cue actress or it’s the result of the director’s torture, Jazama makes one sympathize with her. You really get into the feels.

Alongside Jazama, is Sylvia’s love interest, Afrikaner police officer, Pieter de Wet- played by Jan-Barend Scheepers. The film shows potential for great romantic chemistry between Sylvia and Pieter, but Jazama and Pieter’s delivery for this seemed a little uncomfortable and forced at times. The only moment I felt the ‘magnetic’ attraction between the two characters was when they wrote letters to each other. Pieter, being a sweet, nerdy (or nervous) guy, is open-minded and perhaps in desperate need of a soulmate- or caretaker.

The posh, buzzkill of a woman, Anne-Marie de Wet (Sunet van Wyk) is by far my favourite character in the film. Van Wyk does justice to the character- who is the godmother of inherited racial prejudice- at least in the realm of The White Line. Anne-Marie uses the apartheid regime to her advantage to tower over Pieter and Silvia. Anne-Marie’s has a dominant personality and makes you think her housewife status gives her a lot of time to devise ways that put pressure on Pieter and Sylvia. She is the perfect antagonist: knows what she wants and will go to any length to get it.

The film is perfectly constructed in Otjiherero and Afrikaans (with English subtitles). The cinematography is pretty standard- considering the budget. Director Desiree Kahikopo visibly tried to give the film that 1960’s feel, aided by the colouring. The film is mostly shot in close-up and medium shots. Kahikopo did okay in directing the film- considering it is her directorial debut.

Screenwriter Micheal Pulse did a good job writing the story- the twists do intrigue and would’ve benefited from better ironing out of the scenes. The film has a firm supporting cast who does justice to the sub-plots. The music, especially Pulse’s original song titled The White Line gives substance to the overall film.

It is a good story- just not put together well. The film is important. The story is beautiful. The acting is okay and if you are a fan of stand-up comics who poke fun at accents, you will definitely want to see The White Line.

Watch The White Line trailer:

Theatre Review: Anna & Christelle

Director: Ashwyn Mberi
Playwrights: Mel Mwevi and Ndali Mupopiwa
Cast: Mel Mwevi, Hazel Hinda

Rating: ★★★

Skillfully directed by Ashwyn Mberi, Anna & Christelle weaves queer feminism and anti-racism together in a powerful piece of theatre. Set in present-day Windhoek, the play features Hazel Hinda as the single-mother, Anna and Mel Mwevi as the recently separated, Christelle.

Anna and Christelle, both architecture students, are brought together by their individual lack of intimacy. While their everyday experiences didn’t necessarily relate to each other, in a sense, the two women struggled in their personal romantic relationships, and through this, found solace with each other during their tutoring sessions.

I think it’s a really loving act, and the writers did their part to liberate stigma surrounding female bisexual relationship and the motherhood aspect relating to it.

The easy sense of affection and belonging between Anna and Christelle is kept subtle, as the women majorly focus on changing the worlds around them. This built-up of homoerotic tension got you thinking, rather than feeling.

The writing of Ndali Mupopiwa and Mwevi is incredibly confessional, with both women revealing some their frustrations, memories and experiences.

Anna who lives at her mother’s with her son has a fiery rage against the system, while Christelle, who recently got out of a heterosexual relationship agrees calmly to Anna’s rage, not stopping or contradicting her because perhaps she understands that she, herself, is part of the system. Hinda and Mwevi would silence the room with their deep conversations before the popular nature of the script brought sounds of approval from the audience.

Both Hinda and Mwevi had towering performances delivered with heart, energy boldness.

The set was designed in a minimalist manner, which was great, however, the only mishap in terms of the set was when the acting was happening at the front of the stage, the audience further back struggled to see them.

Of the feel-good moments during the show was the ending; it really felt good to walk out on Christelle’s estranged husband, Christof’s phone call.

Mikiros Garoes Explores Own Sentimentality In Her Romantic Comedy, ‘The Date’

Rating: ★★★

Mikiros Garoes wrote and directed The Date, a light romantic comedy short film set in 21st century Windhoek. The short first screened at the College of the Arts on June 1st 2019. At its core, The Date is a pretty typical romantic comedy: The workaholic friend, her concerned friends and of course, the love-seeking bachelor. Shot at the Old Location Bar & Restaurant in Windhoek with a budget of N$17 000, The Date brings something new to the area of romcoms, from a Namibian perspective.

The pacing of the story is quite good and while there are many funny moments, Garoes missed the opportunity to really dig deeper into the hilarity Namibia’s dating scene has to offer.

For a film with very little funding, The Date’s execution was surprisingly good. Cinematographer and editor Thabiso Dube did well in giving the film a clean outline which represents the film’s tone and message quite well. Lavinia Kapewasha, Hazel Hinda and Bret Kamwi proved to be a recipe for success with their respective character’s charismatic, funny, and vulnerable personalities.

Namib Insider talked to Garoes on the making of her self funded film, casting and her role in the film business.

DSCN0362
Thabiso Dube and Mikiros Garoes behind the scenes of ‘The Date’ (Image: Provided)

Tell us about where this story evolved from. The inspiration and how long were you working on this story before you decided to shoot it?

It was a random idea I had one day that was fueled even further by my own observations on the dating scene in Windhoek, which is rough. It’s rough in deez streets!

The Date has an amazing cast. Tell us about your casting process.

The casting process was fun and easy for me. Lavinia and Hazel are both good friends of mine and I have worked with both of them before. I actually wrote the script with them in mind so there were no other actresses I even considered casting. Bret was the only cast member I didn’t know personally before the film. Initially, I had another actor for the role who dropped out, so when looking for another actor, the both Lavinia and Hazel highly recommended Bret. It was clear from our first meeting that he fit the role like a glove and he ended up killing it, even bringing new colours to the character.

Were you a fan of romcoms growing up? Which ones were you trying to reference with The Date?

I am the biggest fan of romcoms, even to this day. I am such a cornball! As unrealistic as they can be, they are so much fun to watch and write. I have always been a hopeless romantic. There no specific romcom that I referenced but I guess The Date leans more towards a somewhat realistic rom-com in terms of the unpredictability of going on a blind date with a stranger; you never know what to expect.

DSCN0158
Actresses Hazel Hinda and Lavinia Kapewasha pose for a picture in between filming. (Image: Provided)

If you could give the three ingredients for the perfect rom-com, what would they be?

Chemistry/Acting/Believability: No matter how good the writing or production is, if the leads can’t convince the audience that they’re in love then there’s no point. They have to vibe, you have to believe them as a partnership or a couple. It has to be written in such a way that you want them to end up together, the audience has to root for them.
Story: The story or the journey has to be strong. Most romcom stories are basically the same. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they break up and in the end, they get back together. It has been the same story recycled time and time again but it all comes down to how you tell the story.
Music: Music heightens emotions and gives you the sense you’re in that moment as the character or with the character. It has the power to convey what words can’t. Two characters kissing over a candlelit dinner is cute but them kissing over a candlelit dinner to My Funny Valentine puts you in that moment of how euphoric it feels to kiss someone you love.

In any romantic comedy, the two leads have to connect. How as a director and writer do you make sure that the two leads have chemistry?

I am a big fan of rehearsals, not just to get ready before filming but for the actors to get to know each other as people. Between and after rehearsals there is usually some downtime to chat, fool around and get to know each other, but every situation can be different as well. There are times where people just don’t vibe for whatever reason.

You have also done your fair share of acting. What have you learned about directors as an actor, and what have you learned about actors as a director?

I think about the directors I have worked with who brought the best out of me. I am a sensitive soul so I work best with directors who are not aggressive and that I feel safe with, that’s what I want to be as a director; someone who actors can feel safe and comfortable with. I am what you call an ‘actors director’. The most fun about being a director is working with actors because we speak the same language, we are in the same WhatsApp group. It feels like a group of misfits and outcasts that found home with each other. I understand actors because I am one.

DSCN0208
Actor Bret Kamwi in-between filming.

How do you feel your experience of being in both positions has affected your craft?

It has 100% strengthened my craft because I have been on both ends of the spectrum which makes you a more well rounded overall filmmaker. But directing has really changed the game for me on a personal level because I was initially intimidated by directing, but once I got over that fear, it completely opened me up and I fell even more in love with all things film. When you’re an actor you just got to know your lines and not come to work with a hangover (or unprepared) for the most part. Also, directing can be exhausting but you only come out better in the end.

Missed The Date? The Date will be screened at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek alongside Senga Brockerhoff’s Encore, Lavinia Kapewasha’s Itandu and Jana von Hase & Naomi Beukes’s The Wind on Your Skin on 21 June 2019. Tickets are charged at N$80.

Lavinia Kapewasha on Her Post-Apocalyptic Short Film- Iitandu

Rating: ★★★

On 16 May 2019, Lavinia Kapewasha premiered her short film Iitandu (Pieces) at the National Theatre of Namibia. The film, set in post-apocalyptic Namibia, explores traditions vs modernity, food security, corporation vs tension all within the context of the country’s past, present and future.

With a screenplay and direction by Kapewasha, Iitandu philosophically probes humanity’s need to survive at all cost and deliberately ends in a cliffhanger. The lead character, Mwadinohmo’s (played by Kapewasha) entire arc in the story is to survive, at any costs, but when her survival is halted by someone who snakes their way into her plans, her instincts go into hyper-drive.

The film thrives on exceptionally beautiful scenery as the cinematography places the viewer in Namibia’s nightmare world. Coupled with equally extraordinary performances by Kapewasha, Charl Botha and Jennifer Timbo, Iitandu is definitely on the forefront of changing Namibia’s cinematic experience.

Namib Insider caught up with Kapewasha to talk more on the creation of the film.

Lav
Lavinia Kapewasha (Image: Provided)

 

What is the core message of the film? What do you want to achieve or have the audience grasp?

I am really into philosophy, ever-more fascinated by human behaviour, hence why I wanted the audience to leave with the question: Are we doing the right thing, as humans, as a species, as a community, with all that we have been biologically engineered to do? Our prime focus is to survive, so what can one do if someone’s actions hinge on your survival?

What was challenging about bringing the script of Iitandu to life?

As a writer, you can create the most unfathomable situation and orchestrate through the words, but once it’s down to bringing it into actuality, it may not go down as you wish. Space, location, costumes, parameters were all factors I never thought of while writing. Finding the right location was challenging, especially since I didn’t know the great ‘hidden’ locations Namibia has to offer. Seeing that this is a period piece, finding the materials, set items, costumes to create this world was tough. Where can you find the perfect dystopian shelter, that has enough grit, yet not too old in terms of style? Who can create costumes that will transport the viewer to then? Where can one buy futuristic enough items that add to the storyline and flair of the film? Does it give enough information? These questions haunted me as the only tell-tale to point towards the period was the set/costume/props that would give wind of that without having to make it so obvious. Also, how can you bring the viewer on this journey? How would you shoot it? Never-ending questions I was plagued with… too many questions. It all seemed over-ambitious…Despite the never-ending plaguing questions, having the right people, the right team to bring your vision to life was all that was needed.

bts
Behind The Scenes of Iitandu. (Image: Facebook)

How is this film bringing something new to Namibia’s film industry?

A film like this hasn’t been done before in Namibia, by a Namibian. I wanted to challenge myself, thereby challenging Namibian storytellers. It is opening up the scope of what we can do in the art of storytelling. We have the perfect landscape that is naturally gifted, therefore we must use it to its full potential. It serves as a reminder that anything is possible when we broaden our horizons. We should look to different genres and tones so we don’t oversaturate our small market with the sameness we see time to time. We have the power to show Namibia from a different lens.

Where to with Iitandu now that it has premiered?

Another screening is in talks. We are willing and excited about more Namibians to watch this film. Once screenings are over and hopefully festival runs, Iitandu will be available online for all to watch.

You also co-own a film production company. Are you working on your next project?

I am one of the founders of Dark Crown Productions alongside my partner Jenny Kandenge. Kandenge and I collaborated and created Dark Crown Productions to have two black women at the forefront of film/television and theatre. No doubt we have more projects in the pipeline. We aim to shine a light and tell stories. I cannot go into detail as yet, but we are working on projects. One of them, Untitled, will finally be able to be viewed this year. You just have to keep an eye out for more!

Watch Iitandu‘s Trailer here.

Theatre Review- ‘I am John’: A true celebration of the life and times of John Muafangejo

Director: Sandy Rudd
Playwright: Sandy Rudd
Musical Director: Lize Ehlers
Choreography: Haymich Oliver
Visual: Florian Schott
Cast: Peter Mwahalukange, Frieda Mukufa

Rating: ★★★★
‘I am John’ is an hour-long celebration of a great Namibian artist. Yes, I know he is a great man because I have seen the production. It is a celebration of fine art and togetherness. The production easily lived up to its hype.

Rudd and Ehlers delivered what they sold. The entire show had the most terrific combination of raw art and humane elements I’ve ever experienced in a theatre production. As young as I am, I have never fully understood John Muafangejo’s art better; he figuratively told his stories in black-and-white linocuts, with a very strong narrative component, speaking his joy and pain, with the latter seemingly driving his creativity.

Rudd’s production brought Muafangejo’s paintings to live, literally. Schott’s impressive visual undertakings perfectly intertwined with the traditional Oshiwambo hymns which were equally aligned with Oliver’s choreographic deliverance. Despite the, dare I say; tad bit messy choreography, I was able to understand the dramatic and humorous incidents of Muafangejo’s life: He was a lonely man, longing for companionship.

Rudd understood that Muafangejo’s concern was the life and fate of his own Oshiwambo (Kwanyama) people, especially their social and personal conditions and interactions and by carrying this throughout the production, she was able to incorporate religion, love, friendship and reconciliation with big emotions, big melodies and thrilling, yet oddly satisfying dance art which made for a great work of entertainment.

‘I am John’ is truly a celebration of the life and times of John Muafangejo.

Theatre Review: ‘Hi, I AM Joe’ – ‘Under Construction’

Director: Joseph Keamogetsi Molapong
Playwright: Joseph Keamogetsi Molapong
Starring: Denzel Leroy //Naobeb (NSK) as ‘Joe’

NSK 2

This typical College of The Arts Theatre School production is everything you’d expect it to be: poor stage build, with almost nothing that excites the eye.

Anyone who goes to watch a Theatre School production knows their focus should be on the production and not one the set build or decorations, particularly because of the size of the venue.

Nonetheless, despite the very poor turnout on opening night, the show went well. Here are my two cents:

The production started off with a poetry production which, to be frank, I didn’t like. Despite being given the choice of not sitting through the poetry show, I decided to do it for the purpose of this review. I now know it was a mistake. In my opinion, the poetry show was just an extra event to validate the ticket fee.

The poetry production, ‘Under Construction’ starring Cecilia Oletu, Snowflake and Rebel Rouser Bubblehead gave me a high-school-essay-competition vibe, except for Snowflake who showed that she tried to memorize her lines and dramatize her poem. Despite that, the intro show to ‘Hi, I am Joe’ fell flat. Next time, it’ll be better if poets rehearse together, this way, reading off a paper with your attention completely focused on it can be forgiven.

Anyway, by now, I was very eager to see NSK perform and he really brought it…to two. In the play, NSK plays ‘Joe’, a man who attends rehabilitation because his ‘brother’s’ alcoholism is taking a toll on him. In his first-ever one-man show, NSK really gave a groundbreaking performance.

Watching the performance, one could easily identify when he had a character change. He portrayed the right emotions throughout and his projection was on point. Although a little rushed, NSK delivered on his solo performance and I think he should be cast more in bigger productions and explore acting outside the Theatre School venue, which he seems to be accustomed to.

In conclusion, I was expecting the play to reach a climax, because of the tone at which it started, but it left me high and dry. The good direction and stage presence made up for a poor storyline. The overall play was fine. Like I said, it’s solid.