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Sunday Times - - FILM -

FTER com­plet­ing their three-year Bach­e­lor of Arts in Live Per­for­mance de­grees at Jo­han­nes­burg’s Afda col­lege last year, Simphiwe Mh­langa and Thato Molo­sioa formed a part­ner­ship to cre­ate con­tent that they and their peers can re­late to.

In their fi­nal year of study, they each pro­duced and starred in short films that re­ceived crit­i­cal ac­claim at the Cape Town Film Fes­ti­val and the Ber­lin Stu­dent Film Fes­ti­val.

Mh­langa’s Sicela Amanzi: The Day the Tap Ran Dry is a heart­break­ing story about two sis­ters who live through a drought in Thokoza town­ship south of Jo­han­nes­burg.

“The film ques­tions what you would do if your life was in some­one else’s hands,” says Mh­langa.

In­spired by iden­tity, Molo­sioa’s 12-minute film, I’m Black and I Hate It, ex­plores what it is like to be a young black woman in South Africa, as well as how so­ci­ety and the me­dia de­fine beauty.

Now they are work­ing to­gether on two new drama se­ries that play on themes of de­cep­tion, sen­sa­tion and pol­i­tics.

“Both 10-episode se­ries are in­flu­enced by the state of our coun­try. We look at ev­ery­thing from crime, cor­rup­tion and pol­i­tics to rape, hu­man traf­fick­ing and ha­rass­ment on cam­puses,” says Mh­langa.

“The sto­ries are in­spired by what women go through, but also how love can be pow­er­ful at the same time,” says Molo­sioa.

They don’t yet have the fi­nan­cial back­ing to pro­duce ei­ther se­ries, but hope that writ­ing the scripts will open doors for them.

Both young women were raised by sin­gle moth­ers in Jo­han­nes­burg. They have much in com­mon and agree that were it not for the love and sup­port of their moms, nei­ther of them would have such a pow­er­ful drive to suc­ceed in the film busi­ness.

“Our moth­ers raised us to be­lieve we don’t have to be doc­tors or lawyers to make a con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety,” says Mh­langa.

They were in­flu­enced by their favourite TV shows, in­clud­ing Gaz’lam, Back­stage, Home Af­fair and Gen­er­a­tions.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing drama se­ries and say­ing to my­self, one day I will be on that screen,” says Mh­langa.

“I grew up watch­ing SABC,” says Molo­sioa. “I love the South African drama se­ries, but I also loved The Bold and the Beau­ti­ful and Days of Our Lives.”

They be­lieve in be­ing able to let go of a nar­ra­tive with­out nec­es­sar­ily ty­ing things up neatly — which can, they say, lead to “bub­blegum” film­mak­ing.

“Pro­duc­ers need to al­low char­ac­ters to grow and al­low them to have their own minds,” says Molo­sioa. “Not let­ting go of a story can kill the nar­ra­tive. Some­times the story can’t con­tinue, and you just have to let it end.”

They are also fer­vent about en­cour­ag­ing lo­cal tal­ent and would like di­rec­tors who tell South African sto­ries to stop scout­ing for big-name for­eign tal­ent in the lead roles.

They plan to use all the skills they have learnt, in­clud­ing writ­ing, pro­duc­ing and di­rect­ing, but will also con­tinue to hone their act­ing.

“Our pas­sion lies in be­ing be­hind the cam­era and telling the story,” says Mh­langa. “As a di­rec­tor your voice comes through the story, whereas when you’re the ac­tor you’re given a script and you don’t ask ques­tions.

“But we need to grow in the in­dus­try and that will re­quire us to be ac­tresses first.” • Watch the films on Afda’s web­site: afda.co.za/stu­dent­work/440/ 1 /i/’m-black-and-ihate-it/ and afda.co.za/stu­dent­work/416/1 /sicela-amanzi/

Pic­ture: MOELETSI MABE

PIC­TURE THIS: Simphiwe Mh­langa and Thato Molo­sioa are ready to take on the world of film and TV

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