A film festival of Malawians, for Malawians andby Malawians,” reads a statement describing the recent event by ScreenwritersGuild of Malawi (MSG) called Selfie Short Film Festival. The statement showspride and maybe some ego, but the patrons at Madsoc Theatre will tell youanother story.
What started as a Facebook campaign materialised into a short film festival for amateur filmmakers and a learning point for artists and the audience as well. It was humbling to see people from as far as Mzuzu, Balaka and Blantyre gracing this inaugural event which is expected to be back next year.
Malawians are hungry for their stories and to see their people telling these stories. I am reminded of a time when we used to listen to folklores and sing along the refrains as our elders fed us at a tender age.
Time flew and we found ourselves stealing coins just to watch Delta Force (Wadya Ntolilo) and the hunger seemed to be momentarily contained. Fast forward to the millennium, Nollywood films flooded our markets and again we seemed to be satisfied. Now, a myriad of foreign films and television shows from Korea and of course Zee World have taken centre stage, but Malawians want more.
This is why filmmakers such as Shemu Joyah, Tawonga Taddja Nkhonjera, Joyce Mhango Chavula and Flora Suya, just to mention a few, have taken up the mantle to feed Malawians and free them of this hunger.
However, Malawians remain hungry and the Selfie Short Film Festival by MSG exposed the extent of this hunger.
Malawians want a story they can relate to and that is why Ekari Mbvundula spent her time during the festival to teach the participants how they can craft a story that makes sense. Mirriam Phiri, best actress nominee in the recent Africa Movie Academy Awards (Amaa), also took time to share about her journey in art and called upon fellow artists to keep on pushing.
The event also attracted special guests from HD Plus Creations, Hastings Golosi and Blessings Sukali, who urged the patrons to emphasise on quality.
At the end of the event, various artists who submitted their short films to MSG received awards, but the hunger remained. This hunger was passed on to artists who became more determined to tell local stories and to tell them well. That is why many attendees asked for a powerpoint presentation on Screenwriting by MSG and for a free screenwriting software that was demonstrated on the day.
As last Saturday’s event becomes part of history, the call goes to government and the corporate world to support the film industry and emulate Mwezi Arts for providing Madsoc Theatre as a venue and El Shaddai Multimedia for providing a projector for the event. This is not a statement from a beggar but a concerned and hungry citizen who is displaying a situation that needs to be addressed with a sense urgency.
The Selfie Short Film Festival was a plan hatched by young people who met around this time last year to establish an organisation of screenwriters as an attempt to end the hunger for locally made films. The hunger, however, remains as the festival becomes part of history. MSG must be hungry to feed and be fed as well. The question is: What are you going to do about it? Isn’t this an opportunity for everyone interested in filmmaking to contribute? n