A TWO-DAY DREAM
By: Sbongakonke Mbatha
Lights, camera, action! The three magic words that every audience always looks forward to hearing. When it comes to films, it is always about the story and seldom about the storyteller. Those responsible for the craft only get their two minutes of fame when the credits roll.
Clearly there is a lot that happens behind the scenes that the South African audience doesn’t get to see. There is young talent that we get to know about only after the international audience has recognised it before us. Sphamandla Ngcobo is an example of such. A young budding filmmaker that managed to produce a film in 48 hours. His imagination and incredible creativity are one of the elements that helped him produce an eight minute short film called Zwelihle.
Ngcobo is a young man who grew up among the dusty hills of Ndwedwe, north of Durban. He who grew up without a TV set and only had the radio and his grandmother to entertain his imagination.
“My grandmother is the one who used to tell me stories. There were stories that used to play in the morning and in the afternoon on the radio. We used to listen to them together and whenever I got back from school she would tell me all about the stories I had missed during the day,” said Ngcobo.
He describes spending time with his grandmother as God’s plan that gave rise to greater things in his life. While many would fail to even imagine having to produce a film in two days, Ngcobo and his crew grabbed the opportunity with both hands and submitted award-winning material. MasterMind classes that are annually conducted by the Durban International Film Festival, gave aspiring filmmakers like Ngcobo the opportunity of being surrounded by international film agencies, but The 48 Hour Film Project gave Ngcobo the platform to showcase his talent to the world.
“The 48 hour project is an American film company. The 48 Hour Project travels to 120 cities around the world and 2013 was the first time Durban was selected to be part of it,” said Ngcobo.
As it is a competition, there were rules each filmmaker needed to follow- things they needed to apply to their films to validate that the work definitely was produced in 48 hours. They had to include the words ‘eish askies’ in the film.
They also had to name one of the characters Andrius Herrmann and the film had to be 8 minutes. If any of the three requirements were not met the filmmaker and his production team got disqualified.
They had to randomly pick a theme from a hat and Ngcobo picked out drama as his theme.
“I had to write that script, do casting, edit and submit the film in 48 hours,” said Ngcobo.
He co-wrote the script with his friend Zama Msibi. Zwelihle got 16 nominations. Zwelihle is a short feature film that tackles the issue of how secrets have a way of destroying many South African families even though their initial purpose is to create unity based on lies. Zwelihle was screened for two days at the Suncoast cinema and won 8 awards on that day. It was nominated at a film festival in Port Shepstone, as well as in New Orleans, U.S.A. in march, where it won an award for Best Short Film.
Apart from Zwelihle, Ngcobo has produced another short film called Teresa and he is currently working on a documentary film on the legendary ‘Cansus City’ from Ukhozi FM. Ngcobo’s career in the arts is slowly reaching its peek as he is currently a radio producer for Izwi Lomzansi, a community radio station based in Glenn Ridge. South Africa has amazing filmmakers and the potential to produce world class stories. All it takes is for us to appreciate the cast and acknowledge the crew.