The work of young amateur South African filmmakers will be publicly celebrated at the fifth annual LivingIt Ubuntu Youth Film Festival, taking place at the US Woordfees at Oude Libertas Arts and Culture Centre in Stellenbosch, on Sunday afternoon 13 March 2016 from 3pm to 9pm.
The festival, which was made possible by a grant from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), will screen a series of short five-minute films produced by amateur youth. Besides its mission of ‘ubuntu’ – bringing people together – the festival has a legacy of fostering talent, with works on YouTube, and seen on local television and screens as far afield as Boston, Toronto, Edinburgh and London. Some of its winners, such as Kobus Potgieter, have gone on to become filmmakers. Selected works have also been screened at the Cape Winelands Film Festival and regularly on Cape Town TV, posted on the JIP Die Burger, Volksblad and Beeld website, loaded onto YouTube and Facebook and have been sent around the globe by the Global Oneness Project.
LivingIt is a non-profit organisation with an impressive track record of success in giving voice to the hopes and dreams of young people in South Africa. Programme activities challenge, inspire, support and train young South Africans to produce short films of under five minutes.
This year’s Festival theme is Ubuntu (stay/happy/bly/hlala/onwabile). With the assistance of skilled professionals, these films are generated entirely by the young people, from script writing, acting and shooting the film, to final editing. In this way the participants are provided with a wide range of skills and opportunities while using film as a vehicle to voice the hopes and dreams of youngsters, for a united world.
The top five competition entries will be announced at the Festival and each of these will receive R6 000, part sponsored by the ATKV (Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuurvereniging). Further prizes will be awarded at an Artscape screening in August. While the films are running, attendees will be invited to write notes about personal growth, change, or their feelings about South Africa’s progress (or lack thereof) and insert them into a wire phoenix with flapping wings and a 3m wingspan. The evening’s climax will be a fire ceremony complete with dancers, when the phoenix is set alight.
“Our future rests on our ability to work together,” said Ronel Geldenhuys, the founder and programme director of LivingIt. Geldenhuys, as an actor and director, felt she could have a greater impact on the world by facilitating the capturing of young people’s stories on film and transmitting them onto a global stage. She said “the programme is an instrument for social change, a way to build bridges and foster unity within our divided society, an agent for transformation of participants and a way to provide training and skills development within the arts sector.”
Teens who take part in LivingIt’s programme and who show a talent in the various aspects of filmmaking (from pre-production to script-writing to acting) are linked to national and international educational institutions where they can further their education to become employable within South Africa’s film industry.
Two one-day introductory workshops were held in Cape Town in December 2015 to guide and assist aspirant young film makers in getting started. In addition, a one-day workshop at City Varsity film school was made available in January to the first five individuals or groups who appealed for final tweaking and assistance of their entries at City Varsity film school.
“Story-telling is an integral part of our African culture, heritage and traditions,” said Geldenhuys. “For centuries, stories have formed a vitally important part of our cultural expression. In a country with such high levels of diversity, one aspect that unites everyone irrespective of their background or status or culture, is stories. Through the vision and passion of the LivingIt team, opportunities have been created for young South Africans to find a means to express their views and issues through the medium of films and artistic expression – to express what is important to them and to find a shared way forward that arises out of our stories. The LivingIt Ubuntu Youth Film Festival is a not-to-be-missed accessible public platform for the feelings, experiences, hopes and dreams of our youth.”
A pre-screening of the film entries along with short films from other organisations that work with young people and children making their own movies, will be shown on 9 March 2016 at 15h30 in the Neelsie, Stellenbosch University. A permanent interactive art installation, Afrigamibirds, inspired by the Japanese tradition of seeking to make a wish come true by folding 1000 paper cranes, will also be on display at the Oude Libertas Art Gallery. This installation reflects the wishes of diverse communities for a peaceful and compassionate society that lives in harmony with the earth.
Entry to both the Film Festival, pre-screening and art installation is free.
With all the elements for a fun and meaningful family outing, other festival activities include interactive origami stalls, hula hooping, workshops, competitions, crafts and food stalls with picnic facilities available.
More details at livingit.org.za/
Champions: This moving entry for the LivingIt Ubuntu Teen Film Festival 2012 by 19 year old Kobus Potgieter, won him a 2 week scholarship to Norway.
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