THE 2022 Namibian film calendar begins with a bang. No, not the good kind. The kind where the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards are postponed indefinitely and Namibia’s biggest night in local cinema lies bleeding on the national theatre floor.
Plot twist. Last year was actually a pretty good year for local film.
While relatively seasoned films like ‘Hairareb’, ‘Kapana’ and ‘The White Line’ continued to hit the international film festival circuit, host screenings and garner awards for cast and crew, 2022 rustled up some glitz and glamour with the premiere of three Goethe Stage short films in February.
Presenting Othilia Mungoba’s poignant documentary about a city scrap collector, Lavinia Kapewasha’s feminist family drama ‘Grootman’ and Eiseb’s solid cop picture ‘Open Cage’, the Goethe Stage premieres saw the film fraternity reunite at the National Theatre of Namibia in spectacular fashion.
Another notable night of film and flair was the premiere of Nino Pequeno’s (Roger Waldemar Rafael’s) ‘Ompata’ at Ster-Kinekor in July. Beginning as a YouTube web series shot on an iPhone and evolving into a 55-minute feature, the young film-maker’s realistic take on the hustle and hardship inherent in township life captivated audiences who filled two theatres.
As a few fresh films hit local screens, MultiChoice Namibia and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation announced the selection and funding of 13 more productions in June. The selected films by Micheal Pulse, Knowledge Ipinge, Obed
Emvula, Dantagos Jimmy-Melanie, Marinda Stein, Vickson Hangula and Frieda Karipi, Erica Gebhardt, Riejhaat Wolhuter, Kgosi Makaza, David Benade, Mpingana Dax, Errol Geingob and Guy Knockles began production last year.
With the lights, camera and action of a slew of new Namibian films brewing, a 2022 treat for Windhoek-based film lovers was the number of film festivals that took place last year.
Tuesdays in June were bookmarked for the Queer Film Festival presented by EFANO EFANO Gallery in partnership with Equal Namibia and the National Theatre of Namibia.
The Ukrainian Film Festival presented four films from Ukraine and hosted a series of panel discussions with local experts in July. The festival aimed to introduce Namibian audiences to the life, language, people and culture of Ukraine through the art of film, while acting as a humanising counterpoint to the ongoing war in the country.
In August, KinoNamibia, presented by the Namibia Film Commission, Jumper Namibia and the United Nations Development Programme, premiered 12 films produced in 48 hours under the theme of seven of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The short films explored a number of issues including mental health, gender, sex work and black tax, and the festival served as a developmental platform for budding film-makers.
Later in the year, Wednesdays in October and November were booked for the EU Film Festival. Hosted by the delegation of the European Union in Namibia in collaboration with local film-makers, the festival was held under the theme “Youth in Diversity: Our Shared Roots for a Better Future” and featured 18 European and Namibian feature and short films.
Also engaging film enthusiasts in October was Film Week hosted by the Namibia Film Commission and supported by City of Windhoek. Opening with ‘Ompata’ and featuring a short film night including Jonathan Sasha’s ‘Nagskof’ and Renier de Bruyn’s ‘Journey’, the four-day festival additionally presented a documentary evening and closed with Vickson Hangula’s ‘Zula Boyz’.
A year filled with festivals and premieres of films such as Esther Beukes’ ‘Miss Understood’ at MultiChoice, Tim Huebschle’s ‘Walking Forward’ series finale at Goethe-Institut Namibia and Mark Mushiva’s Afro cyberpunk music film ‘Turbo Summation’, which premiered in Berlin, the 2022 Namibian film scene was certainly abuzz beyond what has been mentioned and ended with much to look forward to.
Incoming in 2023 is Perivi Katjavivi’s ‘Under the Hanging Tree’ premiering at International Film Festival Rotterdam on 25 January. A slow cinema noir set in the enduring shadow of the German colonial era, ‘Under the Hanging Tree’ stars Girley Jazama, David Ndjavera, Roya Diehl, Dawie Engelbrecht and Petrina Ndjavera.
As highly anticipated, also concerned with Namibia’s brutal German colonial history and similarly starring Jazama is Lars Kraume’s ‘Der Vermessene Mensch’ which is set to premiere as part of this year’s Berlinale.
– [email protected]; Martha Mukaiwa on Twitter and Instagram; marthamukaiwa.com