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Local filmmaker wins US$10 000

Lerato Matheka MASERU — Local filmmaker, Jeremiah Mosese, this month walked away US$10 000 (M87 950) richer after his film, Mosongoa, was rewarded in the Africa First Programme competition.

South Africans, Vincent Moloi, Samantha Nell, William Nicholson and Tanzanian national, Ekwa Msangi-Omari, also went home US$10 000 richer for their efforts. Moloi was rewarded for his short film, Berea, while Nell and Nicholson won with their One Way Ticket and The Second Law films respectively. Msangi-Omari won with his short film titled Soko.

The cash prizes will be used to fund their films’ pre-production, production and post-production expenses.

“A friend told me about Focus Features’ Africa First Programme competition and I was so interested that I entered the competition. “Thousands of other filmmakers also applied,” Mosese told XpressPeople. Mosongoa is a story about a young woman who enters a stick-fighting competition and challenges the stereotypical portrayal of women in Lesotho.

“This means a lot to me,” Mosese said.

Mosese said the prize money did not mean a lot as “what matters is what comes with it”.

He said he deemed it an honour to be acknowledged by Focus Features, one of the biggest film studios in New York. “They produce films with people like Matt Damon, Sean Penn and others. I doubt that Lesotho filmmakers who come after us will struggle like we did,” he said.

“We might not get to harvest the fruits of our efforts now but the filmmakers coming after me will. At least we are not leaving a barren ground for them like our leaders did,” Mosese said.

In addition to the US$10 000 award, the winners spent a weekend in New York City attending workshops with their co-winners, Focus executives, the directors and co-ordinators of Africa First and a group of experts on African cinema. The advisory board members include a number of renowned figures in African film: the founder and executive director of the African Film Festival, Mahen Bonetti, documentarian Jihan El-Tahiri and former programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Planet Africa Series June Giavanni.

“I thought I knew something, but now getting to meet these people here in New York, our advisers and other filmmakers, I feel like a freshman,” he said.

“As an independent filmmaker you develop certain habits, in most cases habits which are not healthy but they work for you. Now you have to unlearn these habits. I also measure my success with growth, not with money.” Mosese added: “I think I’m just getting started, our future is definitely better than our past. “I don’t think I would be here standing as a filmmaker if it wasn’t for my partner Hannah Stockmann and our joint vision for Mokoari Street Productions and many other people like my mom, my brother and my friends.”

Mosese said he would be coming back to Lesotho with his partner Stockmann to make a short film that is funded by Focus Features Africa First.

“The film is going to be screened at Sundance and other American film festivals. “We will own the copyright and distribution rights of the film across the world except North America,” he said. Africa First Program is an initiative that was launched in 2008 and is dedicated to providing financial assistance to upcoming African filmmakers.

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