A short film by former Port Elizabeth College student Ntombozuko Matiwana is being screened at Africa’s oldest film festival, the Carthage Film Festival, currently under way in Tunisia.
The 33-year-old director and writer, better known as Twiggy, is one of several filmmakers from African and Arab countries to have their work shown at the festival, which has been in existence for 50 years.
“It is the best feeling ever. This opportunity didn’t come so easily, so having my film screened at the Carthage Film Festival means I am on the right track,” Matiwana, who grew up and matriculated in Grahamstown, said.
Her short film, The Bicycle Man, is about a male breast cancer survivor who gets caught up in the midst of societal stigmas. The main character, Steven Grootboom, whose sole source of income is selling vegetables from his garden to feed his family, sees his world crashing down after he is diagnosed with cancer. Grootboom, played by Prince Massingham, is then forced to re-assess his life and relationships with family and others around him.
The Bicycle Man premiered at the Joburg Film Festival at the Rosebank Cinema Nouveau on Monday. The seed for the film was planted three years ago when Matiwana came across an article about male breast cancer which intrigued her. She began to research the phenomenon by speaking to men who were diagnosed with the disease.
“The message above it all is how societal stereotypes can provoke conflict and how a lack of education can see family members fail to deal with such illnesses,” she said.
Matiwana finished her media and broadcasting studies at the PE College in 2004 and then headed for the Johannesburg film-making scene. A Multichoice skills programme resulted in a three-year deal as an assistant director for Penguin Films before she joined the e-News channel and e-tv soapie Scandal, also as an assistant director. Matiwana then enrolled at the Big Fish Film School after five years of freelancing.
The Carthage Film Festival ends tomorrow.