THE fourth annual Sesotho Media and Development (SM&D) film festival ended on an upbeat note on Friday with a colourful awards ceremony for this year’s submissions at Lesotho Sun Hotel in Maseru.
SM&D is a non-profit making organisation active in the non-commercial exhibition of educational videos. It also involved in mobile cinema, with this year’s edition of the festival focusing on youths in a bid to encourage their participation in filmmaking and help them speak out and express themselves freely and artistically.
The fete ran from 21 October, with the submitted films screened in seven districts at bus stops and different community areas. This year, the festival managed to attract a number of foreign entries, with up to 24 international films from different countries and 25 from local filmmakers.
The local productions acquitted themselves well, winning in seven of the eight categories. The Best Professional Documentary gong was won by New Dawn; Best Professional Drama, Mercy; Best 48-hour Film Project, The Last Tear Drop; Best Inspiring Female Film, Nta Tsa Kobo Ea Ka; Best Amateur Drama, Bocha Ke Palesa; Best Amateur Documentary, Talking To Canadians; Best Student Drama, The Ghost and The Best Student Documentary award went to Scorned.
Award-winning local actor, 15-year-old Lebohang Ntsane, who starred in The Forgotten Kingdom, was also given the Young Inspiring Film Ambassador award.
Addressing guests and filmmakers, Basotho Enterprise Development Corporation CEO, Robert Likhang, who is also the film festival’s patron, congratulated the winners and paid tribute to SM&D for the initiative.
“It is through films that we display to the world our uniqueness,” said Likhang, adding, “SM&D took on a mammoth task with its community film screenings.”
The arts, he said, have made many people around the world millionaires, urging local film-makers to “dance for the money and not just for fun” as they should harness their talents to be more than just hobbies but paying careers.
“We need to embark on more projects ourselves rather than always relying on donations,” Likhang added.
“Stop being beggars and start exploring your talent until it pays you. Congratulations to those who were brave enough to submit their productions to sustain the film industry and they will grow and go epic.”
On his part, Tourism, Environment and Culture ministry Principal Secretary, Sam Rapapa, said the film industry has the potential to create more jobs.
“A film is a unique means of communication that links all aspects of art. One of its key areas is preserving culture,” Rapapa said.
“The Ministry of Tourism has earmarked the industry as a key to economic growth area and an untapped pot of gold. Annually, the sector can create 10 000 jobs, but I believe it can create up to 50 000 jobs, either permanent or part-time.
“The ministry is currently working on establishing a board that will ensure artistes make money from their craft, and by next year we will have a television channel run by the ministry.”
Acclaimed film-maker, script-writer and producer, Patronella Sello, was the guest of honour. The South African-based Mosotho hailed local film-makers for their efforts to put Lesotho on the map, urging them not to give up on the trade as it has its rewards. Relating how she rose to be one of the top film-makers in South Africa, Sello said she was driven by a burning passion and not being afraid to take risks.
Also present were members of the Motion Pictures Association of Lesotho, veteran actors Silas Monyatsi and Kalosi Ramakhula, who hailed SM&D for the initiative and all the stakeholders fostering the production of films in the country.