Johannesburg – The Shack – directed by South Africa’s Tebogo Chologi – has won the Best Art Film Award at the Kismet Film Festival in the United States.
Chologi says he was not expecting to win the award since he did not even have the funds to enter the competition.
“The time the film got its first award from the United States of America, from the Kismet Film Festival, it was like I was just throwing a dice because I did not have the entry fee for the festival. Then I wrote an email to them to say that ‘I am from Mahikeng, South Africa. I would like to be part of the film festival’ and they gave me a free entry.
“Lucky enough, I got an award for best art film. I got my second award from Umgungundlovu Film Festival in KZN. At the moment, The Shack has got its other selection from a Rapid Lion Film Festival that will take place at the Market Theatre in April and another selection from New Jersey, America and the festival is on the 27th of this month (March).”
Chologi says he got his inspiration from the challenges faced by ordinary South Africans during the pandemic.
“The Shack is based on a shack that tells us the story of the person staying in shack. When I was told to wash my hands three times a day and wear a mask, I thought it was okay.
“What if there was this guy volunteering as a security guard at a nearby school? He has neither a TV nor a radio. Where is he going to get the information? Where is he going to make money to buy soaps, masks and disinfectants? Does he even know what a disinfectant is? So Shack is about talking about people who can’t talk about themselves.”
Choloi says the discouraging and deterring factors that came with the lockdown could not stop him from working on the film and his determination paid off.
“It was the beginning of lockdown; we were told that there’s something called COVID-19 coming and that was a shock to everyone in the industry. The worst part was that were told that we were not supposed to gather. While I was just going under this lockdown from March till May, I just came with an idea that I’m not going to sit and do nothing. I do have a shack in my backyard so I just picked up the camera and started working.” said Chologi.
The Shack was released solely on digital platforms.
“I am taking advantage of social media and that’s the thing we cannot ignore now because everything is online. The COVID-19 situation showed that the world is going digital. It’s adding to the evolution or a different way of doing things. The world is going online. Now we do auditions online so even myself I thought of doing it the unconventional way.”
To date, Chologi has directed more than four films.