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Local film to premier at Berlin festival

 

Mohalenyane Phakela

LOCALLY-PRODUCED docu-drama, Coming of Age, is set to premier at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany on 12 February.

Running from 5 – 15 February 2015, the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), is the largest public film festival in the world based on actual attendance rates with around 300 000 tickets sold and 500 000 admissions. Berlinale features 400 films from across the world with 20 competing for the Golden and Silver Bears awards.

Coming of Age producer, Don Edkins, said the film’s screening at the festival is a great honour for Lesotho since it is not easy to be featured at the fete.

He said Coming of Age was released in 2013 and submitted to different international festivals in November last year.

“I was so excited when we received the good news in December that Coming of Age had made it to the festival,” said Edkins, who is also the founder of non-governmental organisation Sesotho Media and Development.

“Its inclusion will not only boost the film’s profile but also put Lesotho on the map.”

Shot over a period of two years in Ha Sekake, Qacha’s Nek, Coming of Age follows the lives of four teenagers, Lefa Letsie, Senate Mosothoane as well as Rethabile and Mosaku Leselo, as they grow up and face life’s challenges in the remote and mountainous region.

Very little happens in the village of HaSekake, but from their perspective, a lot is at stake. Lefa, who wears her heart on her sleeve, sees her world fall apart when her best friend Senate leaves the village. She too must decide whether to stay or leave in search of a better education and new opportunities. Retabile takes care of the family’s livestock in a remote cattle post for eight months of the year. He is helped by his younger brother Mosaku, who watches as Retabile goes through a rite of passage that will mark his transition into manhood. The summer of youth is quickly over, doors into adulthood open and close.

“Over the two years of shooting of the film,” said Edkins, “I was able to get an up close view of the day to day life of people in rural areas.

“They also have dreams and aspirations but are usually not afforded the opportunity to get proper education which makes their fitting into modern society all the more difficult.”

On his part, the film’s director and Don’s son, Teboho Edkins, said: “Coming of Age is the title as well as the theme of the film. There is no big story or crisis, nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary about the children in the film.

“They are normal teenagers growing up in a tiny village deep in the mountains of Lesotho. In making this film I tried to literally be with the four teenagers, sharing their space and spending time with them.

“And this is how the normal became extraordinary; the everyday is magical and surprising if one looks at it closely.”

Teboho said watching the children grow into young adults was an “extraordinary” experience, adding that as the film progresses, there is a slow rapprochement of the camera with the characters.

“This progression is important to me, that the camera keeps a respectful and yet playful distance,” he said.

“Similarly, and in parallel, there is fluidity in the directing of the characters, moving from the more observational to the touching moments.”

Cast members, Lefa and Senate, will travel to the Berlinale on 10 February with the film set to appear in Berlinale’s Generation competition 14plus section.

Coming of Age was produced with the support of SMARTD, Sesotho Media and Development, Bread of the World Protestant Development Service and the Film and Television Academy Berlin where Teboho has been studying filmmaking.

 

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