Power of images
One of the earliest celluloid stories to leave a lasting impression on his mind was a silent documentary by pioneering Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov. “The fact that a 1929 film could touch a young man decades later tells you about the power of movies,” Qubeka said. “It made me decide that I would become a filmmaker one day.”
Now with three feature films under his belt, that day has arrived. Also, after the first non-racial democratic elections in 1994, South Africa has undergone a sea of change. “We have political problems and administrative challenges, but South Africa is a free country,” Qubeka said. “We can go wherever we want. It’s our birthright!”
There were many more things to celebrate when the South African delegation of film directors, actors, officials and other personnel from the entertainment industry arrived in Chengdu, a city with thousands of years of history but state-of-the-art infrastructure in Sichuan Province, southwest China, to attend the Second BRICS Film Festival in June.
“We are the youngest nation in BRICS and so our world view is very small,” Qubeka, who was part of the delegation, said. “We have no idea of our place in the world. BRICS gives us a place at the table.”
Though BRICS became a five-member bloc with South Africa joining the quartet of Brazil, Russia, India and China in 2010, and though there has been a series of annual summits of BRICS leaders to plan greater development for the group, it was felt that more could be done to improve cultural cooperation and peopleto-people exchanges.
So at the Seventh BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia in 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the member countries organize popular events like an annual football tournament for young people under 15 and a BRICS Film Festival to share cooperation, cultures and stories. Subsequently, the First BRICS Film Festival was held in New Delhi, India, last year, followed by the Chengdu film festival, which was a run-up to the Ninth BRICS Summit that will be held in September in Xiamen in southeast China’s Fujian Province.
“This forum is most valuable because it has an economic aspect, a policy aspect and people-to-people connections,” said Marcos Caramuru de Paiva, Brazilian Ambassador to China, who led the Brazilian delegation to the Chengdu film festival. “It creates the design of future cooperation.”