Film dream becomes reality

Siyanda Manzini, 32, left, and Nolitha Xozwa, 38,

Two former Port Elizabeth arts activists are cementing their names in South Africa’s film and television industry – one project at a time.

Having always had the dream to tell their own African stories through film, filmmakers Nolitha Xozwa, 38, and Siyanda Manzini, 32, had their dream turn into reality with their film, Ubudoda, shown on DSTV channel Mzansi Magic on December 31.

Ubudoda will be on DStv channel 161 again at 3.30pm today.

Xozwa and Manzini were brought up in KwaMagxaki, and studied TV and film production at the Media Workshop in Port Elizabeth before Xozwa moved to Johannesburg and Manzini to Cape Town.

Manzini relocated to Johannesburg in 2009 and has recently moved back to Cape Town.

The two have separately worked behind the scenes of some of Mzansi’s biggest TV shows, including Ashes To Ashes, Summer Games, The Wild, and Vuk’uzenzele.

Now, following the good reception Ubudoda has had, the pair said the public could expect more projects from them.

Ubudoda stars seasoned South African actors Jet Novuka and Zandile Msuthwana, and upcoming actor Malibongwe Mdwaba in the lead role as their son.

Mdwaba plays a young Xhosa boy who must travel to his village for his cultural rite of passage, but experiences troubles as his family is haunted by a “dark cloud”.

Xozwa directed and Manzini produced the film, aiming not only to highlight the importance and role of a father’s love in a child’s life, but to also spark a conversation that redefines manhood.

“For me the film was more to say that manhood is not a conversation that we (women) can teach men, but they have to pass it down through generations; it’s not our obligation to fix society but a father’s love can do that,” Manzini said.

The mother of two said the film came at a time when her marriage was falling apart, a moment of her life which had the potential to compromise her objectivity around fatherhood and manhood, but she found pride in having been able to tell the story honestly.

“In the midst of all of that, Nolitha and I still wanted to make sure that the story of dads and men was told beautifully and honestly, and now we watch the film and actually laugh at the fact that we were able to birth such a beautiful film amidst the turmoil,” she said.

Ubudoda also holds a special place in Xozwa’s heart as she lost her father during the making of the film.

“The pain of losing my father made an impact in developing the story in the manner that, as a creative, pain is something you can always take from. So I don’t think I would have been able to tell the story in the way that I did had I not lost my father, because the experience allowed me to open myself up more,” the director said.

Ubudoda is the pair’s first drama film and second production together, with the first being Amabele Am, a documentary they shot in Port Elizabeth in 2007.

“Amabele Am started off as a celebration of a woman’s body, but grew to an extent where I had to open up and deal with issues I had with my father and what impact they had on my confidence as a woman, so it was also, in a way, about a father’s love,” Xozwa said.

While the pair have both earned their stripes on multiple TV shows, Manzini said she had always wanted to tell her own stories.

“The dream is unfolding right now for me; the ability to write and own our stories. As much as working with bigger companies opens up your eyes and gives you exposure, when you do it on your own you are able to write stories that are authentic to who you are and where you come from,” Manzini said.

Having grown from being arts activists in the Bay, where they founded the Metro Fever Film Foundation with the help of the municipality, the filmmakers now own content-creation companies.

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