Zimbabwean women master film production in Bulawayo

IBhayiskopo film class (photo by Andy Kozlov, 2011)

by Andy Kozlov

About two weeks ago, I was invited by Sanele Njini to participate in a conversation with Priscilla Sithole.

A former Amakhosi cultural theatre film production trainee, Priscilla Sithole, has set up a film production training project in Bulawayo called iBhayiskopo Film Academy that targets female youths. The idea of empowering women through film was transformed into reality this year in March.

IBhayiskopo means Film/Movie. The word is township lingo for Bioscope. The word was popular during the 60’s and early 90’s in Zimbabwe.

“The technical production aspects of many films, such as shooting, editing and lighting are currently dominated by men, as women are thought not to be strong to take up such a challenging job. As for Bulawayo, there are no known female filmmakers,” Sithole told a Zimbabwean daily Newsday in an interview back in March.

“We teach them so that after finishing their training they may go and set up their own studios and make a living out of the skills we are equipping them with here.”

The first group of trainees will complete their training in November 2011.

The students are not paying anything and they are only buying stationery and catering for their own transport.

Sithole got on board such creatives of Zimbabwe as Raisedon Baya, a renowned author and script writing trainer and Ndumiso Ncube, a film production expert. Priscilla is also a good friend of Zimbabwe’s film icon Tsitsi Dangarembga, who is readily available to advice on the project.

Tsitsi Dangarembga – Zimbabwe’s film icon

Baya told me that he had suggested iBhayiskopo Film Academy should produce three short films for the upcoming Intwasa Arts Festival, held in Bulawayo every September. In addition to this, Priscilla shared with me their plans to take part in the next year’s film festival in Durban.

She called for more people with expert knowledge to come forward and help empower the girls, involved in the training.

The academy, according to Sithole, was allocated US $8, 900 by the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe ’s Culture Fund which has been channelled towards the purchase of equipment from South Africa.

One of the students Nomsa Muleya, talking to Newsday, said,“I see myself becoming a renowned film director here through this training and it makes me feel that I am somebody. I want to emulate the likes of Daves Guzha of Rooftop Promotions. He is my role model.”

Sithole appealed to the corporate world to chip in and assist the project to achieve its goals.

All of you interested in helping this project, please email Priscilla Sithole on ibhayiskopo@gmail.com or call her on 0775520518

You can write to Andy Kozlov on a.kozlov@steppesinsync.com

Priscilla Sithole (on the left) conducting a film class for women (photo by Andy Kozlov, 2011)
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