Rumbi Katedza’s star shines


BY TINASHE MUSHAKAVANHU
LONDON - Filmmaker, Rumbi Katedza, is striding into greater things since retiring from her organisational role as director of the Zimbabwe International Film Festival (ZIFF).

After winning a Chevening scholarship, she has since moved to London to pursue a postgraduate course at the reputable Goldsmiths Graduate Film School. And Katedza has been busy behind the scenes as evidenced by her impressive portfolio of five films. One of the films, Trapped, a quirky short, is in line to win two Kodac/Nehima Awards at the Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol.

In all five productions, Katedza has been working with a multi-cultural team of filmmakers she met at the Goldsmiths campus. How do they maintain the balance and still manage to come up with such superb products?

‘Our crew has now worked together on five short films since January. Over the course of those productions we have managed to get into a rhythm that works for us all. Obviously, coming from such diverse backgrounds and experiences, we all have quite a lot to bring to the table and I believe that makes for a richer final product. I have always been a strong proponent for co-productions,’ she said.

Already the group has participated at various film events including Harare’s ZIFF, the BFM International Film Festival in London, the Sedicicorto International Film Festival in Forli, Italy and the Buffalo Short Film Festival. Katedza explained that ‘such festivals are treasure troves because they expose European audiences to diverse African films.’

For the next week Katedza joins other filmmakers from the continent for the second edition of the Edinburgh African Film Festival also known as Africa in Motion with her film, Asylum, that focuses on Sudanese immigrants in Britain. What was the inspiration behind this emotional gripping cinema?

‘I was watching the news one day soon after I arrived in the UK and there was a piece on asylum seekers. Watching that piece made me wonder what makes a person leave one’s own home to move to a foreign land where they often do not speak the language or know anybody. In the news we hear about refugees’ ordeals with immigration, but not much about their mental and physical health. In Darfur, in particular, people suffer every day, but once they have been removed from the war-torn areas and granted asylum, we assume that everything is fine, but it is not. The truth is, one can never really escape the memories and the mental trauma that one suffers. Even if you are physically safe in the UK, you are never free from the war in your mind. More needs to be done to help refugees deal with this trauma as they try to start new lives in foreign lands,’ she explained.

Katedza’s latest project is Insecurity Guard, a film about a night watchman who falls for a female tenant in a complex of flats he guards. However, both he and this woman have various eccentricities that prevent them from actually talking to each other. It is this however bit that makes for entertaining drama in the film.

Does she have any plans to return to her old job at the helm of ZIFF? ‘Once I’ve completed my studies, I would like to be more involved in the creative side of filmmaking, and that is very hard to do if you are running an international film festival. I hope to be able to do projects with many individuals and organisations, including ZIFF, while I grow and nurture the projects that are close to my heart.’

Katedza further added, ‘I have various projects in different stages of development, including Postcards from Zimbabwe, an audio-visual and life skills training programme for Zimbabwean teens. Last year a group of 16 energetic teenagers made four shorts after only a month of amazing. It’s amazing to watch young people grow in self-confidence and technical proficiency while they create powerful contemporary stories.’

‘CONTEMPORARY VISIONS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA’

A collaborative exhibition of visual art by artists from Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands, hosted by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA), and two of its associated members, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Pretoria Art Museum, will take place in Pretoria from November 3 to December 22.

The purpose of this exhibition is to create opportunities conducive to the development of the visual arts and artists in Africa, to offer a venue where established visual artists from Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands can exhibit their work, to interact with fellow artists and the art-loving public, and to reassess the value of being associated with national bodies in Africa that can benefit by being members of the International Association of Art (IAA), recognised by UNESCO as the major non-governmental world body for the promotion of the visual arts.

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