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S. Africa, China need more films to understand each other: filmmaker

South Africa and China need more documentaries and films with storylines that people can relate to, a South African filmmaker said on Sunday.

Noxolo Bhengu shot a documentary last year in Nanjing, China about her life there. The documentary, titled “The Mould,” will be released mid 2017 on the local South African and international film festival circuits.

The documentary portrays Bhengu’s life leaving South Africa for China to make her dream come true, a road traveled by few. It features her life in China during the past two years.

In an interview with Xinhua, Bhengu said she had to get rid of stereotypes to get used to life in China.

“I discarded many stereotypes that I had and instead, I opened myself up to laugh, eat and live, speak, like the Chinese locals do,” Bhengu said. “What I have learnt through this documentary film and my life in China was incredible.”

The documentary shows that it is possible to achieve one’s dreams if one is resilient and opens up to the world. She said the documentary is meant to awaken dormant dreams and realise them.

“It’s about silencing everything that tricks your mind and your entire being into believing that you can’t do it. It’s about opening yourself up to people and their environments,” said Bhengu. “Destiny helpers are everywhere. Even in the most painful and isolating places. They are there. It’s about wholeheartedly being yourself.”

Bhengu is passionate about making documentaries that touch on what people face in their daily lives.

Many ordinary Chinese people appear in the documentary, including students, street artists, dancers and curious on-lookers they met while shooting the documentary.

These people they met while filming started as curious onlookers. They became friends of Bhengu and “then powerful subjects whom Bhengu interviews and eventually become integrated into her China story.”

She said the Chinese people who feature in the documentary are part of the “Mould” because they formed her community and shaped her world and contributed to how she experienced China.

Talking about China and South Africa or Africa, Bhengu said, “We are so closed off to each other. We rely on cultural stereotypes presented to us in films and elsewhere on television. Most of these stereotypes are hyper presentations and some are completely false.”

“Framing of our differences and similarities needs to come from a place of sincerity, it needs to come directly from the people,” she said.

The director and cinematographer of the documentary, Lucy Jacobs, said, “The possibility of continuing ‘The Mould’ story into another format such as television and thus reaching into the untapped artistry that exists in China is an exciting prospect.”

“I am open to document more journeys less traveled through cross-artistic exchanges between South African and Chinese nationals,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said as members of the young generation, they should create content which reflects an updated and vibrant picture of China and South Africa.


Source: Xinhua | Updated Jan 30

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