By Edward Tsumele
Cape Town and Berlin based filmmaker Teboho Edkins is a happy man, and he has every reason to feel that way. Days of Cannibalism, a film project he has worked on for years walked away with a major prize at an Egyptian Film Festival last week.
This triumph at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival last week, also consolidates South Africa’s global position as a serious filmmaking country, that continues to make an impact on the global screens with its film products, especially at film festivals. This is despite the fact that South Africa, compared to especially the West is constrained in its filmic ambitions, with most film created lamentably from low budgets. However when it comes to filmmaking talent, actors and suitable location for film shoots, the country holds its own against other filmmaking countries, with especially Cape Town and Johannesburg providing suitable locations for film shoots even for film crews from abroad.
Over the years, especially after the dawn of democracy in 1994, that opened opportunities for many people constrained to do so during apartheid to enter the film industry, the country seems to be punching above its weight, irrespective of limited financial resources in the film industry. A case in point is the township based film Tsotsi, which clearly opened the way for global audience appreciation for other South African films when it won an Oscar in 2006 in the category of Foreign Language Film. The star of that film Terry Pheto is now a global star who in her career that saw her in the past act on The Bold and the Beautiful soapie, among other prominent roles, attesting to her global star quality after Tsotsi. The film Tsostsi is based on a book by legendary US based South African playwright Atholl Fugard’s book of the same title.
Days of cannibalism was awarded the El Gouna Golden Star for Documentary Film which comes with a cash prize of $30 000 (R450 000).
Days of Cannibalism premiered at the Berlinale International Film Festival earlier this year where it was nominated for best documentary. It had its South Africa premiere at Encounters in August 2020 where it was awarded second place in the documentary competition. It has since gone on to screen at the Durban International Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Visions du Réel, amongst others, and will be screened at Porto/Post/Doc and the New Directors / New Films in New York in December. The Western-styled documentary is set in the bleak rugged terrain of a remote rural Lesotho, Southern Africa. It is here that economic pioneers are met with unease by local communities, and these self-made Chinese merchants negotiate their place alongside traditional Basotho cattle breeders.
Edkins, who works between Cape Town and Berlin, Germany, was elated about the award: “After years of focusing on this film project, which explores the impact of globalisation in Lesotho where I grew up and more broadly on the African continent., it is so humbling to watch it being appreciated in the market place at festivals,” he said. “This was the first physical screening of my film in Africa. It is a great honour to see the film on an African stage and to be recognized with this prize. I would like to express my appreciation to the organizers for making the festival happen in these challenging times.”
The film has been picked up by Indie Sales. For more information go to www.indiesales.eu
.One of the leading festivals in the MENA region, GFF aims to showcase a wide variety of films for a passionate and knowledgeable audience, while fostering better communication between cultures through the art of filmmaking. Its goal is to connect filmmakers from the region with their international counterparts in the spirit of cooperation and cultural exchange. The festival is committed to the discovery of new voices and strives to be a catalyst for the development of cinema in the Arab world.