Five years ago, visual artist Elson Kambalu decided to venture into film-making.
The youthful painter embraced the motion picture as a way of putting his versatility and passion for storytelling to optimal use.
After releasing Mlandu wa Njinga last year, he seems determined to release two more movies.
Kambalu has announced three productions—Fisi/Hyena, Laura’s Diary and Mlandu wa Njinga 2—with shooting scheduled to start next month.
He explained that Fisi is a short film about how struggles to have a child compel families to go to unimaginable limits and Laura’s Diary tells a story of a young woman who adopts a baby abandoned by a sex worker and traces its father.
“I am pretty new in the movie business. There were things in movies, especially Malawian movies, that I wish I could see and experience, but I could not see them,” he said when asked about his flirtations with cameras and lights.
His passion for video art grew during his stint as an artist in residence at Malawi Liverpool-Wellcome Trust in Blantyre, when he released a documentary which was shown in London.
“I discovered many artists were going that way. I felt moved to join that movement, but I needed to find something that would appeal to a local Malawian,” he explained.
In 2015, Kambalu produced Going South exclusively for Lake of Stars’ Lilongwe Short Film Festival where it won two awards.
“I was encouraged and motivated to do more. The same year, I wrote and begun shooting Mlandu Wa Njinga/The Case of a Bicycle. It took us two years to finish it,” he recalled.
The movie premiered last year in Lilongwe.
What fires him up?
“My motivation is simply curiosity. It was more of an experiment, wanting to try to do what I could not see in other films and remembering the glory of movies I saw in London,” said Kambalu.
He is expected to release the first two films this year, he said.The premiere of the second instalment of Mlandu wa Njinga is slated for March next year.
The first emerged a semi-finalist at Pan African Lake International Film Festival in Kenya last November and was selected for San Mauro Film Festival in Turin, Italy. n