Art on Target to screen film by young PE writers

Joe Slovo teens highlight alcohol abuse in 'Sela'


Ten-year-old Kamva, of Joe Slovo Township, carries the burden of his mother’s heavy drinking. This is the gist of a short film written by three Port Elizabeth teenage boys, which is set to be screened in the city next week.
Joe Slovo Primary School pupils Ibanathi Buqa, 12, and Lulama Duda, 13, and Woolhope High School’s Iphelele Baxana, 14, have collaborated with the Art Works For Youth educational programme and members of the Joe Slovo community to highlight the effects of alcohol abuse on young children in the film, Sela (Drink).
Ibanathi said: “We have written this film from the struggles we have in our lives and we want people to know about them.”
The pupils are a part of Art Works For Youth – an international educational youth programme that interlinks volunteers from the US who facilitate free visual art instruction, academic support and mentorship to pupils in Port Elizabeth.
Spearheaded by Chicago-born Art Works For Youth founder John Lombardo, the screenplay project has been a part of the youth programme for four years but the opportunity to adapt the works into short films only came later.“The screenplay project began four years ago as my desire to get students writing in a way a bit more appealing than our usual essay of the week. “We had no idea back then that they would be made into films,” Lombardo said.The film became possible thanks to the Chicago School of Latin’s Project Week – when the school’s students choose from a list of projects in Chicago, the US or internationally.Lombardo proposed Art Works For Youth’s screenplay project when he learnt of Project Week.“When our project was accepted and we were told 18 students and two teachers would be coming out to help film two of the short screenplays, we rallied to involve all of our current students.“We came up with two screenplays within a week of Latin School’s arrival,” he said.Sela is the first of the two films accepted. The second, Ootata (Fathers) tells the story of a young girl whose father wants to be involved in her life after 17 years of absence.“We worked long days on each film while Latin was present that entire week.“The bulk of Sela was shot with Latin present but needed a bit more work afterwards,” Lombardo said.Sela, directed by Bay filmmaker Rafieka Davis, stars professional actor Marcia Tandokazi Ntoni and youngsters Asonge Sitshabane and Olothando Solomon, along with members of the Joe Slovo community as extras.“What we hadn’t expected to come from this project is the burst of confidence in the writers, the actors and even the Joe Slovo community at large,” Lombardo said.Sela was shot from March 11 by local company Swirlcose Films and produced by Art Works For Youth and the Film School of Chicago.The shoot, production and post-production process took about two months.“Filming and editing were complete on April 26, but we ended up reshooting and adding an ending we thought had a bit more impact on May 1,” Lombardo said.Sela has been viewed by audiences in New York City and Chicago and will premiere in Joe Slovo on Friday May 17 and at Art On Target in Target Kloof on Saturday May 18 at 6pm.The writers and actors will be present to discuss the film.

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