Florian Schott’s Baxu and the Giants is the first Namibian film to soon start showing on the popular streaming service, Netflix.
The 29-minute long film will be available on the streaming service from 30 September 2020.
According to Scott, the Netflix deal came about through one of the Film Festivals Baxu and the Giants took part in. Particularly the RapidLion International Film Festival hosted in March in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Apart from earning the Best Humanitarian Film nomination at the festival, Baxu and the Giants impressed one particular sales agent as well.
“I attended the festival with my wife and Production Coordinator Cherlien Schott and Karl Ehlers, one of our composers. At the festival, I had a meeting with a South African Sales Agent who watched Baxu and the Giants and as we stayed in touch they heard that Netflix was looking for African Shorts and that they were apparently interested in Baxu and the Giants,” Schott says.
Schott says while delivering the film to Netflix’s technical specs took a bit of time, they are “super happy that it all came together and our film will be available on Netflix soon.”
“Of course, it’s a huge honour to be the director of the first Namibian film on Netflix but the congratulations really need to go out to the whole Crew, especially Girley Jazama and Andrew Botelle, and of course our star Camilla Jo-Ann Daries,” Schott says.
Jo-Ann Daries won the Best Female Actress Award for depicting the 10-year old Baxu at the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards 2019. Equally, the film itself is loved by local and international audiences, having received numerous accolades here and overseas.
“I am confident that this is just the first of many Namibian productions on Netflix,” Schott adds. “And a huge opportunity for Namibian filmmakers to showcase their films around the world.”
On 27 August 2020, the first official soundtrack of Baxu and the Giants was released to the public. The beautiful single ‘Sada Di Tama Hâ’ by Lize Ehlers, Cherlien Schott, Karl Ehlers (LOFT) and Imms Nicolau feat. Camilla Jo-Ann Daries comes with an awesome video that was directed by Girley Jazama, who co-wrote the script of Baxu and the Giants. ‘Sada Di Tama Hâ’ directly translates to ‘not ours’ in Khoekhoegowab.
“As we got multiple requests to release the music from the film we’ll do that in the coming days as well,” the director says.
Coronavirus lockdown has all of us feeling blue, some of us probably even realized being home all the time is not as fun as we’d imagined. Even despite having watched so many Hollywood/international movies/series during these few days, you still yearn for something different, something more ‘Namibian’- I know I do.
Since the spread of the Coronavirus to Namibia, local filmmakers have been making their films publicly available for free online viewing.
Here are some new and old Namibian films you can watch online while in hibernation:
“Salute!” (2018), dir. Philippe Talavera
“Baxu and The Giants” (2019), dir. Florian Schott
“Untitled – The Web Series” (2019), dir. Lavinia Kapewasha
You can watch the entire 10-episode first season of Untiled here.
“Another Sunny Day” (2017), dir. Tim Huebschle
“Sold Out” (2017), dir. Leon Mubiana
“Genesis” (2019), dir. Laimi Fillimon
“Careful” (2019), dir. Skrypt
“Tick-Tock” (2018), dir. Glen-Nora Tjipura and Ndakalako Shilongo
These are just some of the films I actually got around to watching/rewatched. To see the more, check out Lockdown Cinema Namibia on Facebook. Also, there’s a 10-minute short called Project: Black Love I read about in The Namibian and it is visually beautiful!
Florian Schott’s award-winning short film Baxu and the Giants will have its first Namibian public screening for the year at the DHPS Auditorium, on Thursday, 6 February, for free.
Additionally, the Legal Assistance Centre and MaMoKoBo Video & Research will host a series of screenings at schools in Windhoek, including other free screenings for the public in Windhoek.
Later in the year, the film will also be screened in villages north-west of Namibia, where the film was shot, including in the coast.
All of these screenings will lead up to the Global Release of Baxu and the Giants in mid-March. At this time the film will not only be available on DVD but also for streaming worldwide via YouTube and Vimeo.
International Festivals where Baxu and the Giants will be screening in the coming two months include the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, the Toronto Black Film Festival, the Children’s Film Festival Seattle and the RapidLion International Film Festival in South Africa.
The Namibian short which premiered in September 2019 already screened in nine countries and won multiple international awards, including the Award for Best Foreign Narrative at the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival, three Namibian Theatre- and Film Awards (including Best Female Actor for 10-year-old Camilla Jo-Ann Daries), two international Cinematography Awards and two Awards at the Knysna Film Festival in South Africa.
Baxu and the Giants tells the story of how rhino poaching triggers social change in a village in rural Namibia, seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl. 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 around rhino poaching.
Director Florian Schott’s short film, Baxu and the Giants, had its world premiere in September 2019 and has already won awards for Best Foreign Narrative in San Francisco, 3 Namibian Theatre & Film Awards (Best Female Actor, Best Editing, Best Production Design), 2 monthly international Cinematography Awards (at the Canadian Cinematography Awards and the European Cinematography Awards) and 2 Awards at the Knysna Film Festival for Best Cinematography for a Short Film and Best Supporting Actor for a Short Film.
The film is proving to be favourite with international film festivals having already screened at the San Francisco Independent Short Film Festival in the United States, the Wallachia International Film Festival in Romania, and the Knysna Film Festival in neighbouring South Africa.
Next week, the film will screen at the 2019 Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) in Nigeria. According to Schott, Baxu and the Giants has confirmed screenings at the AfryKamera African Film Festival in Poland in December 2019, at the Barbados Independent Film Festival in January 2020, at the Cape Town International Film Market & Festival in October 2020 as well as screenings in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley in the USA sometime in 2020 and still awaiting a number of decisions from various film festivals around the globe.
Schott talks more about the international success of the film:
Baxu and the Giants is doing really well internationally, with three international wins so far. Why do you think the film is performing so well?
I had the privilege to watch the film with audiences in three different countries so far and everywhere we go our story really seems to connect emotionally with the people watching it. I think that no matter where you come from you can easily understand Baxu’s motivations and connect with her moral dilemma.
The film has screened at a number of festivals and is scheduled to screen at more festivals over the next few months. What is the importance of film festivals, for you as a filmmaker and for Baxu and the Giants as an anti-rhino poaching activism piece?
Our strategy for this film was always two-fold. First, bring the film to Namibian audiences, especially children and teenagers. We are busy planning this right now. Bringing the film to schools, do more public screenings all around the country and show the film villages that are most affected by Rhino poaching. Secondly, we want to raise awareness on the issue of rhino poaching of Namibia. In travelling with the film to festivals we chat to audiences about the importance of conservation and the urgency of this issue. Next to this – for me as a filmmaker – these film festivals are great places to showcase Namibian film, to network, to watch independent cinema from around the world and to chat to potential partners when it comes to distribution but also potential future projects.
You have done a number of films, where would you place Baxu and the Giants in terms of success compared to your other films?
This is such a difficult question. I think all of my films had very different goals, so it’s almost impossible to compare them. For Everything Happens for a Reason I was just glad that people were interested in the film, and I had a bit of financial success with it, winning the Afrinolly Short Film Competition in Nigeria. Katutura probably had the biggest impact when it comes to expectations for a Namibian film. I think our biggest success with that was proving clearly that Namibian audiences are interested in watching well-made Namibian stories if you give them the chance to. Baxu and the Giants is really well received, both in Namibia and internationally, and I hope that this film can be a part in making a real difference in the fight against rhino poaching. And it hopefully inspires other filmmakers to think of the youth and children as potential audiences for their stories. But as I mentioned, it’s almost impossible to compare. I am very happy with the reception of all of my films.
“It’s very comforting that you share the experience of being an independent filmmaker with so many other filmmakers from around the world.” – Florian Schott
Overall, has the response to Baxu and the Giants stacked up to your expectations?
Yes, it actually went way beyond my expectations. We did foresee a positive response from a Namibian audience but the international response, especially from children and teenagers both in Namibia and outside of the country, the way people identify with Baxu and her story, is really beautiful.
You have travelled to a number of countries with the film. Is there something you’ve learned about films you’d like to share?
As a filmmaker, you learn a bit with every film you watch, every conversation you have with fellow filmmakers and I am privileged to be able to watch a lot of films that are not available in cinemas or online at these festivals. It’s very comforting that you share the experience of being an independent filmmaker, with all its struggles – especially in terms of development, budget and distribution – with so many other filmmakers from around the world.
So, Baxu and the Giants is enjoying international attention now, coming back to Namibia, are there any plans to show the film in other towns other than Windhoek?
Yes. We have two more public screenings in Windhoek planned, optimally this year still.
The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) already brought the film to various schools around the country and we are busy putting a plan together to bring the film to all corners of Namibia in 2020.
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 (Anna Louw) in a village in Damaraland, Namibia. Schott co-wrote the film with Girley Jazama.
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.
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.
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.”
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 Betta, Amber 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.