NEWCASTLE FILMMAKER HIGHLIGHTS WOMEN’S FINANCIAL STRUGGLES
Written by: Mfundo Knowledge Mthembu
Budding KwaZulu-Natal filmmaker is to premier his first production, which tells the story of elderly women of an impoverished township in Newcastle illegally mining coal in an abandoned quarry to feed their families.
Simphiwe Qwabe (22) from Newcastle, takes delight in telling authentic stories that resonate with most people. The short documentary titled: Amandla eMbokodo, is to be screened on 3 March 2018 in Blaauwbosch, a place where it was shot. The documentary uncovers the realities of elderly women who risk their lives on a daily basis, as they have no other means to make a living in the underprivileged community.
“I wanted to raise awareness around the health issues potentially faced by the community as well as women working in these mines. And, to show the strength of the phenomenal women working relentlessly to provide for their families,” he said.
Qwabe believes “most people are not well informed about the health hazards” those women go through.
This short doccie is a build-up to a full-length one and he hopes it will help him raise funds for the major production.
“I am still to make a full-length documentary as I feel a responsibility to tell this story and do so with as much sensitivity and accuracy as possible,” he said.
Though Qwabe’s career in the TV industry has taken off, he has had his fair share of struggles. Having faced academic exclusion following lack of funds to continue with his video technology studies at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) mid-2016, Qwabe was still determined to try other means to gain skills in the entertainment industry. He went to Big Fish School of Filmmaking in Cape Town and took a short course with them.
“I learnt a lot in terms of documentaries as that is where my passion lies. After graduating, I went back to Newcastle broke and jobless.
“Upon my return home, I was met with challenging life stories of women who work at the nearby mine and who had lost their loved ones due to the hazardous environment they worked under in the mine,” he said.
With no budget, Qwabe gathered his friends Thulani Xaba, Mandla Asagis, Fisokuhle Nkosi, and Athi Petela, and asked them to help him shoot the doccie.
Apart from Amandla eMbokodo, Qwabe has other projects in the pipeline. He currently trains for camera and lighting with KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission. He works with Mandlakayise Dube who directed Kalushi – a movie about the life of a struggle icon Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu, who was guillotined by the apartheid government in 1979.
Qwabe intends going back to DUT to resume his studies once he gets funding for university fees, though he has not secured any as yet.
Qwabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Caption: Aspiring filmmaker Simphiwe Chris Qwabe feels optimistic about his career in the film industry.
PICTURE: BNP STUDIO