Dunoon youths given opportunity to be filmmakers

A Cape Town non-profit film training organisation was selected out of hundreds of organisations worldwide to receive a United Nations Youth Solidarity Fund grant.

The grant is administered by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNOAC), GroundUp reports.

MyDunoon was one of only two organisations from Africa which applied for the grant.

It has paid off well. Beneficiaries of the programme have been nominated for an audience award in an international film project.

With the experience of seasoned filmmakers working for the organisation, MyDunoon used the funds to train youth in digital film production and introduce them to opportunities in the film and acting industry.

Thirty-five youths from Dunoon, some South African and some from neighbouring countries, were recruited to take part in the three-month training that began in June.

Lessons took place weekends at Dunoon Sophakama Primary School and after lessons, participants went to locations within the township to film.

After learning film language, and the technical and creative skills required to produce films, the trainees shot six films in the township's streets and informal settlement alleyways.

Read: International filmmakers take a tour of the region’s attractions

Of the six films, which are between seven and nine minutes long, three were submitted to this year's annual 48 Hour Film Project. This is when people across the planet are given a weekend to make a film.

One of the trainees, 21-year-old Zizipho Gontsi, said that a short film her group produced was nominated for the best use of props and the audience award.

Challenging xenophobic attitudes

The film is titled Uhambo (The Journey). It is about two people who get to know each other when they are faced with the challenges of being on a mountain together.

Participating in the creation of this short film has resulted in Gontsi receiving a scholarship to study a three-year film production course at City Varsity next year, she said.

Gontsi said the MyDunoon training taught her how to operate a camera, write a movie script, production management, cinematography, and design. The training, she said, focused on practical aspects rather than theory.

The training has also seen Tanzanian Nicas Pillu being awarded a scholarship.

"I feel good to have won a scholarship to study an eight-week course in acting," said Pillu.

"I have been in South Africa since 2009. It is great to do what I have always wanted to do, but due to lack of funds, I was unable to pursue my dreams," he said.

Read more: Dunoon soon to get state of the art library

The MyDunoon founder is Christine Fyvie.

"We challenged them on prejudice and bias and told them the benefits of working with diverse people," said Fyvie. "Through that, we created films around the topic of diversity. The aim was to challenge the xenophobic attitude within the community. We did this through making powerful stories."

Fyvie did not want to disclose how much funding MyDunoon received from the UN grant but, according to the UNAOC website, the Youth Solidarity Fund awards grants up to $25 000 (about R350 000).

The short films were screened publicly at the Dunoon community hall on Heritage Day.

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