Tag Archives: Indie films

Insider’s Perspective: Can You Make Money From Filmmaking In Namibia?

With a population of just over 2.54 million and a relatively small film industry, the question regarding financial success seems pretty obvious. But let’s first look at some stuff.

The domestic film industry is slowly growing from strength to strength as there is an improvement in produced content, narratives as well as improved production quality and standards. New creative and innovative players penetrating the film market are also on the rise. However, the greatest challenge facing the Namibian film industry is the lack of consistent film funding and corporate/local investor buy-in. In fact, Namibian films, if not self-funded, are majorly funded by the Namibian Film Commission. Some (if not all) of these films have to source additional funding on top of the Commission’s funding to be completed.

In terms of distribution, unfortunately, Namibians don’t really seem to have a theatrical culture, except for when it comes to major Hollywood films. Major or big budget Namibian films do have theatrical runs for a very short time and are mostly attended by industry players, family, and a friend of a friend which in turn leads to straight-to-DVD releases. Local films can’t just play at the cinema every day for weeks on end because of the minimal financial resources and then there is the aspect of not having many cinemas spread across the rest of the country, meaning producers have to host screenings in different towns to actually afford Namibians to see their own films- which in turn comes at great financial costs and while the pace is slowly picking up, it has proven hard to convince corporate Namibia to fund local films. Most films, even those supported by the Film Commission barely make a profit because even when on DVD, not many people actually buy these DVDs.

So, can one make a living off making films in Namibia? Namib Insider! spoke to some of Namibia’s award-winning filmmakers on the possibilities. Here are their insights:

Tim Huebschle- Writer/Producer/Director (‘#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm’, ‘Looking For Iilonga’, ‘Another Sunny Day’,…)

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Huebschle on Filmmaking in Namibia…

Filmmaking is all about storytelling. It’s narrative medium and you make use of images, music, sounds and the plot to tell a story. It’s this that drew me into the field when I was 21 years old. Since then the journey has been all about learning to tell better stories within the constraints of the medium. Constraints were and are largely made up of access to funds, access to equipment, the size of the local market and my own capabilities as a storyteller. But – the underlying current that drives each and every project is the passion I have for the medium and the act of storytelling itself. I love being a filmmaker and wouldn’t want to be anything else.

Huebschle on Making Money from Film In Namibia…

You can make a living of making movies in Namibia. There are a couple of realities. First and foremost you have to ask yourself what you want from life. Is it a fancy car and a nice house with loads of financial security. If your answer is yes, then the film industry is probably not for you. Especially in Namibia where the market is not that big, you have to realize that you probably will not ever make that mortgage payment on time, so don’t even apply for that bank loan… But if you’re able to bring in your lifestyle costs at a relatively low level and you keep your monthly overheads to a minimum, then you will be able to sustain yourself. You have to learn to stretch your income to cover the periods where you are not making loads of commissioned projects. Speaking of commissioned projects, you have to start applying your creativity to corporate videos, image films and public service announcements. These kinds of projects will provide your regular income. Whereas they may not necessarily be your passion project like your feature film is, these commissioned films will keep you going and help you fulfil your dreams while you are busy honing your skills as a cinematic storyteller. So embrace them, make the best possible commissioned film you can and keep on making them.

Heubscle on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

Nowadays social media has provided us with platforms where you’re able to showcase your content to the world. Plus the rise of smartphones has made video cameras super accessible to most people. If you want to break into the film industry and get noticed, then use these two, the social media and the smartphone, to start telling your stories. Put them out there to the world, build and listen to your audience and improve your style with every video you make. To stay working within the film industry, firstly diversify your skills set. Don’t just insist on being a director or camera person. Learn more about other fields within filmmaking such as editing, sound recording, casting, make-up, etc. You will find that there are more projects you’re able to work on if you don’t limit yourself to just one stream. More projects mean more income. And above all, keep your costs of living low. That doesn’t mean you have to be poor, it just means you have to manage your expenditure well and don’t get used to too many monthly overheads.

Marinda Stein- Writer/Producer/Director (‘Coming Home’, ‘Women of Our World’,…)

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Screengrab from Marinda Stein’s 2014 film, ‘Coming Home’

Stein on Filmmaking in Namibia…

I think any career in the arts does present some challenges. This can be attributed to the idea that it isn’t necessarily viewed as being sustainable like the mainstream careers that we’re bombarded with at school when having to make a decision about our futures. As a filmmaker, it is no different. And certainly not as a filmmaker in Namibia. For me being a filmmaker (more specifically writer and director) is about capturing the essence of the human spirit. Through stories, we can create understanding, tolerance, acceptance, create a society that is emphatic – something we so desperately need in our country too. I have said on so many occasions that we may not be engineers or managing banks, etc., but as filmmakers, we carry a huge responsibility for the social fabric of our society and our industry makes a huge contribution to our country’s economy, so we count. We matter.

Stein on Making Money from Film In Namibia…

I have made my living being an independent filmmaker for the past 10 years. However, it wasn’t by making films only. With my background in TV and diverse skills set, I did and still do a lot of commercial work to ensure my sustainability. Making films require huge budgets and we don’t have those all the time. While the Namibia Film Commission has call-outs for project submissions on an annual basis, it’s not enough to support every single filmmaker who has a story that she/he would like to turn into a film. So being in our industry requires us to be innovative. I had to learn so much along the way and I made many mistakes too. Before I entered the film industry I thought of myself as just a creative/ an artist, but that has since changed vastly. I had to learn to understand what being an entrepreneur meant (because that was essentially what I became), how to make sound business decisions – all with longterm sustainability in mind. The same year that my short film Coming Home premiered and my women series Women of Our World was released, was also the most difficult financially. Today I am still a writer and director, but I’d also like to think that I am a job creator and in addition stepped into the administrative side of film to make my contribution towards creating an enabling environment for current and future filmmakers. When I attended FESPACO in 2015, I also realised that as a Namibian film industry we have been operating in a silo for the longest time. There was (still is) a world of film out there and we were not (are not yet) part of it. This is slowly changing since our Namibian films are travelling to film festivals and we have online platforms where we can share our work with audiences around the globe. But if we cannot monetize the latter specifically then it doesn’t mean much to us as filmmakers. Distribution of our films has been a challenge historically. And that is something that even I am still learning about and continuously exploring. Because in order for our industry to grow, we need to be connected. Not just in our industry, but also to Africa and the world.

Stein on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

It may be equally exciting and daunting to choose a career in film. My advice is simple: identify what path it is that you want to take and work towards that. We have such beautiful talent in our country and we have young, gutsy filmmakers who have shown that they are fearless and passionate about telling stories. However, one doesn’t want to rely on your friends and make movies with ‘no money’ for every film like with your first. In my view there is no such thing as making a movie with ‘no money’ – while you are not physically paying someone for a service or equipment, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t cost anything. The ultimate goal is to be sustainable and that means creating a career that will pay the bills, take you on holiday, make you have a good life. Entering the industry also doesn’t mean having to start your own company. We see so many mushrooming, but is it beneficial to building an industry? Buying equipment on the cheap so you can offer services on the cheap as a one-man-show only harms the entire industry. We have to honour the value we have as well as that of our industry. Would it make more sense to combine your skills set with likeminded individuals to make films and offering your services together to clients (because you’re not only going to be making movies in our industry)? You don’t have to go at it on your own and we have a collective responsibility to build an industry that will outlive us all.

Understanding that funding opportunities are existing outside Namibia is crucial too. Connecting with fellow filmmakers is essential – the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented. Most established filmmakers have gone down the same path so they can be engaged on what successes they had and how they went about it. There are also other opportunities in the industry because Namibia is a popular destination for foreign productions. While as writer/ director one would want to identify as a content producer, working on international productions create an opportunity for income for technical support crew and provides a great learning platform. With hard work and tons of perseverance, I got to where I am. But the film landscape is always changing and I have to be cognizant of that. So I must be willing and able to adapt. 

Florian Schott- Writer/Director/Producer (‘Katutura’, ‘Baxu and the Giants’, ‘Everything Happens For a Reason’,…)

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On Set of Florian Schott’s 2013 film, Everything Happens For a Reason

Schott on Filmmaking in Namibia…

I don’t think anyone can convince me that making films is not the best job in the world. As a filmmaker, you not only get to tell stories, entertain people, get them out of their lives and introduce them to a different one for a brief moment, but you have the chance to shape the world around you, to create a discussion about issues that are important. Being a filmmaker in Namibia comes with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. We have great opportunities here, as we have riches of stories, talent and unfortunately also quite a number of societal issues that need addressing. The challenges are a lack of support and funding. Making films is only possible in collaboration, and film can be expensive, so there is a constant fight in order to get funds to make films.  But we are lucky that we have the Namibia Film Commission that not only helps filmmakers make films but also can help in getting the film out there – something that a lot of other African countries don’t have.  So making films in Namibia it’s a challenge, but the fight is part of the experience, and the reward in having audiences react to your film is even sweeter if the road to making the film was challenging.

Schott on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

Let me just say that if you go into film for the money you are probably on the wrong path. There are many easier ways to make money. Personally, I can only make a living directing and writing films because of my work outside of the country. But I am in the privileged position to be able to make a living being a director. There are ways to make a living in film, but this way means not specialising on one thing only. It is hard living off directing or being a cinematographer, or writer, or editor only.  But if you know how to do multiple things, like you can film and also edit, you do fictional films but also commercials and corporate videos, you direct but you can also service produce other production company’s films, or you work in film and also theatre – that way you can actually make a living of film in Namibia.

Schott on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

You have to continue working, always pushing ahead, always developing, not stopping.
There were a few instances where I questioned if the fight is worth it, as the work you put in and at least the financial reward of it is definitely not in any healthy proportion.
But the impact your films can have, just in the last weeks seeing hundreds of kids’ reactions after watching Baxu and the Giants is worth every minute you put into your films. Or the hundreds of emails, messages and just personal encounters after Katutura, and how it inspired young people to want to make films; this is what keeps you going. You know there will be people appreciating locally produced films and stories. And I feel it’s important, especially for young people, to read books and watch films in their own languages. But it’s not only the result – the work itself, working with great co-writers, actors and crew is also just a beautiful way to spend your working life. I wouldn’t give it up for anything else in the world.

Oshoveli Shipoh- Director/Producer (‘Hairareb’, ‘Painted Scars’, ‘Looking For Nelao’,…)

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A screengrab from Oshoveli Shipoh’s 2019 film, ‘Hairareb’

Shipoh on Filmmaking in Namibia…

When you have an intimate population that is so well informed about anything and everything, it becomes an opportunity to rise and have a voice in the industry. A voice that can express stories in any shape or form. For me personally, the most important way to stay relevant as a filmmaker is to bring your business ‘A-game’ to the table. A lot of filmmakers pitch for work from an artistic perspective because they are passionate about the work. It’s an admirable thing but one must remember that the client expects you to be passionate regardless. The reality is that if you can’t convince a client why it is in their best interest to utilise your services, I think then we’ll have a lot of struggling filmmakers.

Shipoh on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

You can absolutely make money from film here. I’ve noticed an increasingly high demand for my services over the past year, which has grown beyond the lights, camera and action. It’s unfortunate that our industry is not yet big enough to only focus on one component of the film industry. As a Namibian filmmaker, we should see ‘film’ as a tool to penetrate every corner of the industry. We have to take advantage of what we’re good at so that anyone in any sector will want to pay you to do what you enjoy doing. In SA the industry is so big that an actor can make a career from just doing soapies and nothing else, we don’t have that here, unfortunately. So as an established film director I don’t just focus on doing feature films and shorts, I’m directing commercials, documentaries, corporate videos and now recently just started my first film workshop.

Shipoh on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

I’m thankful for being in a position where I don’t need to look for film projects, they come looking for me. So when I get started I ensure to keep paying as much attention to the details of the vision of the film without getting lost in the artistic mess. To adapt and stay relevant in the industry we need to go beyond limitation.

Desiree Kahikopo- Director/Producer (‘The White Line’,.)

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Screengrab from Desiree Kahikopo’s 2019 film, ‘The White Line.

Kahikopo on Filmmaking in Namibia…

In all honesty, filmmaking is great because we love it and it is hard at the same time. For you to do this and pursue with everything that comes with it and it’s not easy, you have to love it, really really love it. In Namibia, because the industry is still growing and we only have one funding body and not very keen corporate companies and private individuals willing to invest in film, it really is challenging on the financing part and we need funds to make films or tv shows and distribution is especially difficult too.

Kahikopo on Making Money from Film in Namibia…

I have been in the arts and film industry for a while and I have not been able to make a living out of it as off yet, but it is possible, I think the public is really interested in Namibian films and are willing to go see films and that equals box office returns, and with proper marketing to fill up the cinemas and distribution that works both ways, filmmakers can make a living and of course with the involvement of corporate companies and individuals to invest in this art form because they can recoup their investments. We can’t do this alone.

Kahikopo on Getting Started and Keeping Work as A Filmmaker…

Look at what you’re interested in doing with in the industry ( Camera, acting, directing) and look around to see what’s out there; casting, people looking for crew members and get started. Networking and relationship building is important, it gets you started and keeps you working. And just work hard and be consistent and persistent.

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This article was inspired by an IndieWire article on making money from independent films.

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.

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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.

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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.

‘The White Line’ To Have Its Run in Joburg, Rwanda, New York

Desiree Kahikopo’s The White Line will be screened at the Joburg Film Festival, set to run from the 19 to 24 November 2019 in Johannesburg.

The six-day film programme includes all the excitement and Hollywood pizzazz associated with red carpet premieres, screenings and awards as celebrities rub shoulders with serious filmgoers in a rich display of filmmaking at its very best.

So far, the film has screened at two festivals in South Africa, the Durban International Film Festival and got curated by the Durban International film festival to screen at the Hilton Arts Festival in Durban as well.

Director Kahikopo said being curated for the Joburg Film Festival is really awesome as South Africa has one of the largest film and television industries in Africa.

“To get an opportunity to showcase our film there really is a step in you know, for recognition as an industry, our stories and what we too have to offer. When I was in Berlin at the Berlinale I spoke about Namibia’s Unique voice within the African Cinematic movement and I wanted Namibia’s voice to be heard and our stories to be seen within Africa and the Diaspora and having to get chance to do this at this great African film Festivals where African meets and the world meets Africa its incredible,” Kahikopo said.

According to Kahikopo, The White Line has also been selected the 15th Rwanda Film Festival happening now in October and at the New York African Diaspora Film Festival in New York happening end of November.

The film was also selected for the Cape Town International Market and Film Festival which has been unfortunately cancelled for this year and will take place only next year.

“I’m really glad that and grateful that we are getting headway outside of the country one step at a time,” Kahikopo said.

#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm Premiere, Film Facts & More

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Muhindua Kaura and Elize De Wee in #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm (Images: #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm)

Director Tim Huebschle’s feature film, #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, is set to have its official premiere this Thursday, 10 October at Ster Kinekor Grove Mall, Windhoek.

The film revolves around Meisie Willemse (Elize de Wee), a rugged cop with a dark secret she kept hidden for decades. However, while investigating a series of hateful murders, Willemse encounters a ruthless reporter who exposes dark secrets from her past, which in turn, derail the case, but Willemse is determined to catch the killer, even if she has to break the law.

Here’s some key information on the 95minute crime thriller:

Movie Title
The full title of the movie is #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm. The ‘LAND of the BRAVE’ part is borrowed from the second line of Namibia’s national anthem. It cements the idea that this is foremost a Namibian movie, by Namibians for Namibians. The use of the hashtag and the inclusion of the word “film” is very specific to indicate that this entire project is about more than just a movie.

Casting
Huebschle was adamant on the use of a combination of well-known and unfamiliar faces in the film. The film features Elize de Wee, Armas Shivute, Pieter Greeff, Ralf Boll, Khadijah Mouton, Felicity Celento, Muhindua Kaura, Chantell Uiras, Chridon Panizza, Joalette de Villiers, Janu Craill, Ndinomholo Ndilula, Jarret Loubser, Brumelda Brandt and Rodelio Lewis.

“I identified some actors e.g. Armas as Shivute and Elize as Meisie, but actively scouted for others. Piet Potgieter was synchronous as Pieter connected with me on Facebook just as I was looking for someone to play Piet. We put out an online casting call and that is how we found Chridon as Suiker and Khadijah as Cherry. In young Charmaine’s case, I scouted local productions to look for actors who resemble Elize and came across Chantell. I also wanted a few local celebrities to play bit parts, so am very grateful that Gazza (famous Kwaito artist) and Jarret Loubser (from Radio Wave) were game. Anyone outside the German-speaking community in Namibia may not know that Ralf Boll, who plays Dr Schneider, is a household name from the NBC German Radio service,” says Heubscle.

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Armas Shivute and Elize de Wee in #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm

Budget
The film is produced with a tight budget of N$3 million which required extreme lean project management. About half of this amount was a grant from the Namibia Film Commission, while the remainder was sourced through private contributions, some crowdfunding, and using Collective Production’s own resources, including in-kind support from various avenues which allowed for the completion of the film.

Production

The film is produced by Collective Productions, co-owned by Huebschle, who is the writer & director of #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm, and David Benade, who is the film’s Producer. The film was primarily shot in and around Windhoek, with some scenes at Spreetshoogte and in the small harbour town of Lüderitz. The Lüderitz interior scenes were filmed on a custom-built set in Windhoek. Principle photography was from 3 July to 10 August 2018 with a total of 28 shooting days over the 5 week period with a short production break in between. The decision to shoot during winter was a deliberate, creative consideration. The land is dead during winter and that bleakness reflects what is happening in the story. On a practical level, this meant the production team braved extremely cold early mornings and evenings, particularly on two-night shoots.

Script Translation & Language
In order for #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm to be a truly Namibian film, it had to be in a language Namibians speak, a particular brand of street-Afrikaans which is unique to Namibia. The script was originally written in English, but Heubscle entrusted the actors to translate their own lines. The entire film – Afrikaans, English and vernacular dialogue – is subtitled in English.

Music
#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm composer Ginge Anvik produced a score including
music samples from the Nama, Himba, Ovambo and San people of Namibia. Collective Productions involved the Directorate of National Heritage and Culture Programmes for guidance and support during the selection process of traditional musicians. During November 2016 Ginge and director Tim Huebschle travelled 3313 km in 8 days through southern and northern Namibia as part of the #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm soundtrack road trip. The entire music production fee was covered by TONO, the Norwegian Collection Society and Performing Rights Organization, and the Komponistenes Verderlagsfond, the Norwegian Composers’ Remuneration Fund. These contributions were secured by Anvik.

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Elize de Wee and Pieter Greef in #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm

Original Song

#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm’s soundtrack includes an exciting original song to feature over the credit roll. Afrikaans rapper Ike Adonis, better known as Ixa, and Namibia Annual Music Awards 2019 winner for best Afrikaans, Vaughn Ahrens, collaborated to produce the original song, ‘My Ghosts’. The song’s lyrics are inspired by the film’s tagline “facing the ghosts of your past is like trying to catch a serial killer who won’t be caught”. Ahrens’ indie-rock style, combined with Ixa’s rap, provides a fresh Namibian sound. The song is a mixture of Afrikaans and English hip hop with a folk feel to it. ‘My Ghosts’ was publicly released on 9 September 2019 for airplay on local radio stations in the run-up to the film’s premiere on 10 October. An accompanying music video consisting of footage of the artists in the studio during recording, interspersed with scenes from the film, was also published on social media the same day at 9:09 am.

#LANDoftheBRAVEfilm will premiere on 10 October and show until 20 October at Sker Kinekor cinemas in Windhoek. Tickets are available at Ster Kinekor, Pick n Pay and Webtickets. Early Bird: N$50 • Door: N$60 • Half price Tuesday: N$30.

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.

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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.

‘Baxu & The Giants’ Releases Trailer Ahead Of September 19th Premiere

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Director Florian Schott with actors Camilla Jo-Ann Daries and Wafeeq /Narimab (Image: Opas Onucheyo)

Namibian short film Baxu and the Giants follows Baxu (Jo-Ann Daries), a 9-year old girl who is in touch with nature and tradition but toughened by life in poverty, lives with her older brother Khata (Wafeeq /Narimab) and their alcoholic grandmother (late Anna Louw) in a village in Damaraland, Namibia.

Baxu and the Giants will have its Namibian premiere on 19 September 2019 at Ster Kinekor Grove Mall, Windhoek. Tickets to the premiere are N$60.

Baxu and the Giants was commissioned by the Legal Assistance Centre with the aim of sensitising teenagers to the issue of poaching in Namibia.

Producer Andrew Botelle (The Power Stone, Born in Etosha) enlisted Director and Co-Writer Florian Schott (Katutura) and Co-Producer/Co-Writer Girley Jazama (The White Line) to craft an emotional story out of this difficult issue of poaching.

Here is the official trailer of the film:

Related: ‘Baxu And The Giants’ To Have World Premiere At San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival.

‘Baxu And The Giants’ To Have World Premiere At San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival

Florian Schott’s short film, Baxu and the Giants will have its world premiere at the 2019 San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival. The festival is scheduled to run from 13 to 15 September at the New People Cinema, in Japantown, San Francisco.

Baxu and the Giants will be part of the festival’s ‘The Kids Are All Right?’ program which features films about kids on 14 September.

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Camilla Jo-Ann Daries as Baxu in ‘Baxu and the Giants’ (Image: Facebook/Baxu and the Giants)

The 29-minute film follows Baxu, a 9-year old girl who is in touch with nature and tradition but toughened by life in poverty, lives with her older brother Khata and an alcoholic grandmother in a village in Damaraland, Namibia. The film is themed around rhino poaching.

Schott said that while it is great that especially this year there are multiple Namibian films coming out, it is also important that Namibian filmmakers are afforded the chance to show them outside of the country.

“There is a high demand worldwide now for African content and us Namibian filmmakers should be a part of this conversation,” Schott said. “Our experiences and stories aren’t any less valid than the ones from Nigeria or South Africa.”

Baxu

Schott expressed gratitude on being afforded the opportunity to play a part in shining a light on the difficult issue surrounding rhino poaching to American audiences. “We will continue working hard on bringing the film and message out into the world. Doing what we can as filmmakers to make a change and help in the fight against rhino poaching.”

Baxu and the Giants will be screened alongside Dekel Berenson’s Ashima, June Hucko’s BettaAmber Sealey’s How Does It Start, Dana-Lee Mierowsky Bennett’s Sammy and Mariona Lloreta’s The Moon Never Dies.

The film will have its Namibian premiere on 19 September at Grove Mall, Windhoek.

Tim Huebschle’s #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm Debuts Official Trailer Ahead Of October 2019 Release

“We have a serial killer on our hands,” says tough cop Meisie Willemse (Elize de Wee) as she investigates a murder.

The release of #LANDoftheBRAVEfilm has been anticipated for over 5 years and now it is official, Tim Huebschle’s crime thriller is expected to premiere on 10 October 2019!

Apart from de Wee as the lead, the film features Armas Shivute, Pieter Greeff, Ralf Boll, Khadijah Mouton, Felicity Celento, Muhindua Kaura, Chantell Uiras, Chridon Panizza, Joalette de Villiers, Janu Craill, Ndinomholo Ndilula, Jarret Loubser, Brumelda Brandt and Rodelio Lewis.

Multi-award winning musician Lazarus Shiimi a.k.a Gazza also makes a cameo as a businessman in the film.

In December 2018, the first teaser for the film was released, followed by a second teaser in March 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:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Desiree Kahikopo on Berlinale, Production Process and Vision for ‘The White Line’

Now that production for the Namibian feature film, The White Line is wrapped, Namib Insider sat down with the film’s director, Desiree Kahikopo to talk more on the filming process.

Desiree Kahikopo (photo: Vaultz Connect)
Desiree Kahikopo (Image: Vaultz Connect)

The White Line is your directorial debut. How was the story born? Why was this the story you decided to tell?

The White Line was a story I came up with during 2016, after watching a show on the American civil rights movement. Americans talk about their past and their struggles and all the stories that came with it, while us as Namibians, despite our rich past, don’t talk about ours, at least not visually as much. I came up with the title ‘The White Line’ and wrote it down in my notebook and left it at that for a while. After that, I saw something on Facebook on the old-location uprising and that’s when I came up with the story for The White Line, but when I came up with it, it wasn’t the love story it turned out to be. I told Micheal about the story I had written and the next year, in 2017, we decided to work on it. During that time, Girley Jazama conducted an interview with a child of an interracial couple and the story of his parents was really inspiring and upon some more research, we decided that we wanted to go this route and tell a love story in a time of apartheid. At the time I wasn’t thinking of directing at all. I was actually trying to come up with a director for the film, although I knew directing was always something I wanted to do, I didn’t think I was qualified or ready to do it yet. But one day I was driving to Windhoek and I heard from within me ‘why don’t you direct’? I swear it was literally the Holy Spirit. At first, I was like nope, I wouldn’t know what to do or where to begin, but then I asked myself if not now then when. So I just went for it.

Take us through the casting process. Was it easy or were there challenges.

For the lead character Sylvia, I knew already when I came up with the initial story that I wanted Girley for the role. Before The White Line, I was writing another story and for that, I was thinking of casting Girley for one particular character, so for The White Line, there was nobody else who could do Silvia justice in my eyes. For the other characters, I knew what I was looking for, but I didn’t really know if I would find them. At one point, Girley and I went to go and sit at Joe’s Beer House scouting for the white cast. Finding the right actors to play Anne-Marie and Pieter was a bit challenging, especially because of the nature of the story, but after going through a series of others, Sunet van Wyk and Jan-Barend Scheepers were suggested to me and when I saw them I knew they are perfect and exactly what I was looking for. Explaining the characters to them and seeing them take them on was awesome. For the characters Unotjari and Jacobine, we had to go through a series of actors too and then we decided on casting Mervin Cheez Uahupirapi and Vanessa Kamatoto. Charl Botha and a few others came through a casting agency, but we knew Charl was perfect for the role of Jan.

On set (photo: Vaultz Connect)
(Image: Vaultz Connect)

Can you talk a little bit about some of the specific production challenges you faced during filming? How big was your crew and how long did you film?

We had about 28 cast and crew members excluding the extra’s, but from the get-go, the challenge was always financing, mostly because the film was a period piece. Because of that, we knew that we were going to go over budget and we had hoped to raise the money that we needed before we wrapped, but that proved difficulties and still proves to be difficult. We had to film in 14 days and had to make sure that we don’t exceed that and we filmed in three different towns; Usakos, Karibib and Okahandja, so the scheduling had to be right. The cast and crew really did a great job handling the changes in locations and towns, the extras jumped in and were great, the other production challenges were a difference in opinion here and there but nothing hectic really.

This film is set in the 1960’s apartheid era. What were some of the challenges of making a ‘period piece’ in the recent past? How important was it to keep to a 1960s theme and how well is it incorporated in the film?

Well firstly the film is set in Windhoek, but we couldn’t really film in Windhoek because it has really developed over the years. Katutura is really development too, so that was challenging finding suitable locations that for at least a block you could work with, the roads, the streets, the houses both exterior and interior in Windhoek was difficult, so we had to go look outside in the smaller towns. The wardrobe was challenging; to find old South African police uniform and vehicles or just old cars like batons, and so forth was expensive to rent. It was really important to keep to the theme throughout the film in everything the audience will see, that it draws them into the time and space into the era and the lives of Sylvia and Pieter and those around them. We had to carefully check everything; wardrobe, houses (inside and outside), streets, cars, the accents, the languages, the food they ate, the things they drank everything, it wasn’t easy but we did it to the best of what we could do with what we had to work with. To say the least, I am very proud and happy with how the film turned out.

What were your goals for the film when you were starting out and what are the impact goals for the film now that it’s done?

When I started with this film I knew that I wanted it to travel outside Namibia, and I also wanted it to travel across all parts of Namibia. I wanted to help usher in a new dawn in the Namibian film industry, to break barriers in the industry not just in Namibia but in Africa as well. I had set my mind that I was going to submit it to international film festivals both major and minor, have the film first travel at festivals (and it will), get distribution in cinema’s around Southern African, East Africa and hopefully West African as well. I have spoken to a few distributors who are interested. We are looking to gain European and North American distribution, but we need the finished film because the distributors want to see a finished film and then the goal was to submit it to the Oscars. I really just want it to be one of the successful and recognised films out of Namibia and shine a light on the Namibian film industry. I started submitting recently the work-in-progress to festivals, praying to Jesus we get in.

How far is post-production for The White Line and when can we expect to see the film?

The film is complete, we just need that additional funding to get it out, and right now because the plan is to do the festival circuit first, we do not have a definite date for premier or release as of yet.

Production (Image: Provided)
Production (Image: Provided)

You recently delivered a presentation titled ‘Namibia: A Unique Voice within the African Cinematic Movement’ at the Berlinale Africa Hub. How important is a representation of the Namibian film industry, especially since its picking up momentum? How do we grow our industry and make it competitive with the world?

Representation is very important, I learned that more being at Berlinale, because we get to speak and let our voices be heard. We get to be seen as an industry that’s standing and active and as a people and shift whatever stereotype is out there about us. We want co-productions, collaborations, we want for things to change and contribute to that change that’s taking place. I have learned recently that we need to be in those places markets, festivals and have those discussions with fellow filmmakers and form those relationships because you can’t really form a relationship from afar. People will only assume about us unless we are present. Some filmmakers I met and distributors didn’t really know that Namibia has a film industry. So being there and talking to people and forming those relationships and learning from each other can only help build you as an individual and then the industry itself. We need private individuals to invest in film and corporate companies to fund films and we need collaboration and co-productions amongst our fellow Africans as well international producers and investors and we also need to build a cinema-going audience. You are right, Namibia’s film industry is picking up momentum and that’s really great, but I think we also need to kind of know where we want to go and how we want to get there, listening to presentations from East Africa (Kenya, Rwanda), Nigeria and South Africa you get a sense of who they are and where they want to be. First and foremost, we need to start looking at the film as a business that needs to sustain itself and us, story development, we hear that some stories take years before they are made, I am not saying take years but make sure your story is airtight. We need producers that understand the business of film and not just film as an art form, has a distribution and marketing plan/strategies and learn that it doesn’t happen overnight. I had to learn that doing The White Line, and working hard and working together selflessly.

Watch The White Line trailer below: