MASERU — The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, through its Health Education Division, is giving Basotho youth a platform to showcase their acting skills through a film to be shot next month called Tšasa.
According to one of its executive producers, Silas Monyatsi (known from Kau la poho), the film is targeting teenagers and young adults who are at high risk of being infected with HIV and Aids.
“The key message of the film is HIV prevention among the youth population in Lesotho.”
“It is going to touch on issues that we identified as drivers of HIV transmission among young people including peer pressure, poor communication between parents and children, alcohol abuse, transactional sex and intergenerational sex to mention but a few,” he said.
He said the storyline is about a 20-year-old girl named Bophelo from the highlands of Lesotho who decides to study in Maseru. She sees this as an opportunity to get used to the urban life as she prepares for tertiary education.
She sells the story to her father who is a farmer and a strict parent.
He buys into it but her mother on the other hand disapproves.
However, Sesotho culture being patriarchal, what a man says in a family goes.
Bophelo and her childhood friend Sebolelo enrol in Form E in Maseru, but upon arrival they attract the attention of a conniving Form E repeater, Nthofela, who feels threatened by Bophelo’s beauty.
Nthofela has lived in Maseru all her life and was reared by a shebeen queen in Sea Point.
As time goes on, Nthofela introduces Bophelo to alcohol and men.
Peer pressure takes over her life and she loses track of her real reason for coming to Maseru.
Monyatsi told Xpress People they ran auditions last weekend and 600 aspiring actors auditioned.
He said: “We are only looking for plus or minus 20 main characters but many extras as there will be a school scene. Many of those who auditioned will get the opportunity of being in front of the camera when we start rolling in the first week of September.”
He said the shortlisting of the 20 main characters would be a mammoth task for the crew.
“It is very hard to select the main characters from the 600 because of the fact that Lesotho does not have trained actors.”
Pheko Mathibeli, an executive producer of the film, told Xpress People he hoped the project would enable the government, particularly the National Manpower Development Secretariat, to see the importance of supporting the film industry financially.
“This is a time where professionals are needed in the fields of drama and filmmaking to convey messages that would help the nation. But there is no financial support for such individuals,” he said.
He urged the government to extend its financial assistance to the sector to ensure it develops.
Monyatsi said the technical team which includes himself, Pheko Mathibeli, Ramahooana Matlosa (executive producers) and Pheelo Makosholo (Director) and Tumelo Matobako were all Basotho.
“We are going to try and ensure the project benefits Basotho as much as possible by working with only locals as much as possible,” Monyatsi said.