SA short film to be screened at Pan African Film Festival

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Sharon Kavhu

Windhoek - Eyelash, a South African short film which was among the three Jury Award Winners of the I am Africa Short Film Competition, is set to be premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, USA next month.

Out of 160 submissions, the film, which was produced by a South African-based Zimbabwean, Faith Riyano (22), was selected for its unique African love story telling characterised with myths and beliefs associated with eyelashes.

The I am Africa Short Film Competition is an initiative by the African Narrative, the Pan African Film Festival and YouTube to showcase emerging talent from indigenous African filmmakers that aim to reshape the painful stereotypes that undermine the artistic excellence of African cinema . 

In an interview, Riyano, who is also the film’s director of photography and one of the script writers, told The Southern Times that the award will see one of the film’s crew attending the screening and other film workshop during the festival on all paid expenses trip.

“This achievement is truly a humbling one and a far-fetched idea. I literally took a wild chance to produce this film and now we have won,” said Riyano.

She said when she heard about the competition, she developed Eyelash’ script from her film concept called A Dead Man’s Wish and worked together with Mpendulo Ngobese on the script. Ngobese also directed the film.

“This win means a lot to me because A Dead Man’s Wish, the script that developed Eyelash stayed close to my heart since the very first day I ever conceptualised it and I always lived with the pressure of making that film. I knew I’d never have been at peace had I not told that story. I am grateful for Eyelash for freeing me to release this idea,” she said.

Riyano started working on the production of Eyelash three weeks before the competition closed. She said she had to make a plan for the film to be produced in five days because the goal for the competition was in line with her inherent advocacy for African cinema.

She said the concept for Eyelash was inspired by her friend, Maya-Angelou Buys, who told her about the eyelash wishing in 2018.

“I then became curious about why people make their wishes on an eyelash. I then thought what if people’s making of wishes is only a reflection of an underlying fear. I then imagined of ‘fear’ in a situation where two best friends are in love but too afraid to tell each other, because of the fear of rejection or losing the friendship. Thus, sometimes in life somethings are better left in wonder as wishes. Thus I came up with Eyelash which has four cast namely Lorenzo Dampies, Vuyiswa Mxasa, Komohelo Maphike and Simbulele Moko,” said Riyano.

Eyelash is a short film about two childhood best friends who fall in love and are too afraid to tell each other, and blowing an eyelash becomes the only way to realise their wish. The film was edited by Carolise Myburgh and Charlize Oberholster was the Production Supervisor.

Riyano started her film career aged 17 years when she went to film school. However, she has always been fond of art.

“I fell in love with filmmaking because growing up I was an art enthusiast:  taking pictures, drawing, writing stories and playing the guitar. Thus, making a career out of my hobbies through filmmaking just felt right, since this multifaceted medium celebrates my versatile artistic passions which are driven by my burning desire to tell stories through art. For me, telling stories is in an effort to connect human beings together through the sharing of a compelling audio-visual experience. I tell stories to understand myself. As a result, I am drawn to producing films that revolve around psychological themes as I feel an intellectual need to articulate our often misunderstood African identities to the world.”

She holds a bachelor’s degree in motion pictures from The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance where she specialised in cinematography. She also has an honours degree in Film and Visual Media from the University of the Free State where she specialised in directing.  

The 22-year old director has worked as a gaffer for the music video ‘Right Now’ by Nasty C, Gemini Major and Tellaman.

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