Film school teaches youth to tell their stories

Sapho Wulana and her partner Yonela Kute at the launch of their filming school.

A Mandalay woman has launched a non-profit film school to encourage young people from Khayelitsha to tell their stories “from behind the camera”.While the school was founded five months ago, and has already run a two-month course-from May to July – Imibono Yethu was officially launched by Sapho Wulana and her partner, Yonela Kute, last week. Ms Wulana, 28, told Vukani her passion for filmmaking started two years ago when she trained for a year with local film-maker Shelley Barry. In July last year, she enrolled at the Big Fish School of Digital Film-making and graduated in April this year.

Through her NPO, said Ms Wulana, she was targeting Khayelitsha youth who had matriculated, but were not working or enrolled in tertiary education programmes.

“We are trying to open their eyes to the film industry and also to reduce crime in our community,” she said.

They started with eight trainees, four of whom completed their movies.

The others left, said Ms Wulana, because they had thought it was an acting school.

“We are teaching youth to tell their stories from behind the camera. We now have four films on topics that affect the youth of Khayelitsha such as drugs, alcohol and unemployment,” she said.

Ms Wulana said she chose to focus her efforts on the young people of Khayelitsha because she grew up there and is who she is today because of the people she grew up around. She feels that she owes it to community to uplift them, she said.

“What we will start working on now is to source funding as we started the school on a zero budget.”And because four of their trainees completed their film projects, she said: “At least now we have something to show people (when we ask for funding)”.

Lithakazi Sogxothiwe, 19, made a movie called Emjaiveni, which is about how the youth in the townships spend their money on expensive alcohol every weekend and the problems they face while they are drunk.“The training was amazing.

“I learned so much, I will pursue a career in film-making and thanks to Sapho for giving me the opportunity to make a film,” said Ms Sogxothiwe.

Kananelo Buthelezi, 20, made a movie called Men behind the trash, about two men in Litha Park who created their own jobs by washing their neighbours’ bins.

“The training was great. We learned exciting things every day, but my main challenge was to get my film idea and talking to the people whom I made the film about as I had just moved to Khayelitsha,” said Mr Buthelezi.

He said he was thinking of making film-making his career but was still weighing up his options.

Ayanda Gwele, 18, made a movie titled A’Journey which was inspired by the fact that he lost his family.

“My movie is about how I first lost my twin brother at birth, followed by my dad, and my mother which forced me to be strong for myself,” said Mr Gwele.

“The training was an eye-opening. I now know what happens behind the scene and I also learned that commitment is important when working with people. My challenge was going back and being in touch with my story. It got me emotional at times,” he said.

“I love movie-making because you get to tell the story the way you want it to be told, but I want to study economics,” he said.

Siyanda Krala made A movie titled Craving for change which is about two young men from Harare, Khayelitsha, who were addicted to drugs but changed their ways.

“The training was very informative about what goes goes into making a film.

I did not believe in myself. while making my movie I was doubting my ability of being a film-maker and that was a big challenge for me,” said Mr Krala.

“I will be pursuing a career in film-making. I have applied at The Big Fish school of Digital Filmmaking,” he said.To see the movies made by Ms Wulana’s trainees, log on to YouTube and search for Imibono Yethu.