The purpose of the African Women in Cinema Blog is to provide a space to discuss diverse topics relating to African women in cinema--filmmakers, actors, producers, and all film professionals. The blog is a public forum of the Centre for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema.

Le Blog sur les femmes africaines dans le cinéma est un espace pour l'échange d'informations concernant les réalisatrices, comédiennes, productrices, critiques et toutes professionnelles dans ce domaine. Ceci sert de forum public du Centre pour l'étude et la recherche des femmes africaines dans le cinémas.

10 March 2011

Oshosheni Hiveluah: A Portrait

Oshosheni Hiveluah
Oshosheni please talk a bit about yourself? What was it like for you growing up in terms of films and images that you were exposed to?

Well in terms of growing up, I was born in exile in Angola. Since I was born during the war my perception was for a very long time very militant because of propaganda songs, videos and the lifestyle that I lived. Then I spent part of my childhood in the former GDR and my first cinema experience was so magical and enchanting-I think it was the 1984 film, Neverending Story and I was fascinated with cinemas from that day forth. This was the total opposite of what moving images had been for me before this, so as any child would have, I fell in love and hard. We didn't go to the cinema often but when we did I could not hide my enthusiasm for days ahead. Most of the regular weekly stuff I was exposed to were the TV shows like Batman etc. you know 80's shows-sitcoms, Cosby show, etc., but because we lived in a communist state the shows that were screened had to be in line with communistic ideals and of course all channels were majorly censored. Back in Namibia from 1990 I was exposed to a lot of commercial blockbuster Hollywood films and very few African films which made filmmaking in my eyes appear to be an exclusive and distant thing and for a selective few. Because I always wanted to tell stories however I opted for theatre at the time, because it was open to me to explore. Then I remember seeing Sarraounia (Med Hondo, 1986) one evening as a teenager, a film shot in Burkina Faso, and it changed my outlook and perception on African cinema. I then started digging and searching for more foreign films, going to embassies for film screenings and trying to expose myself to films I was not accessing and films that had that heart, that passion that I shared when telling stories. Then I moved to Cape Town to study and I felt like I had arrived, there were alternative theaters (cinema nouveau and Labia) that screened independent films and it was during that time that I was also learning more about filmmaking, work on set, etc.
So what finally brought you to cinema?

I studied multimedia at City Varsity and during 2003/4 year I was renting with a friend and our landlord and landlady were a producer and an art director. I found their work fascinating and went on set once or twice and laid my eyes on the wonderful world of cinema and film. I was in awe, but did not get in contact with film until a year later. I went to work in the theatre, because it was safe I had always been exposed to theatre and had always been part of theatre groups during high school, until I wrote a script for a student film which was selected for a workshop during our local film festival (which has since died-Wild Cinema International Film Festival), which I then directed and decided to take on a job as a production assistant in 2005 to learn about filmmaking because I realised this was something I could see myself doing for a while to come. I spent four years with the company working and exploring almost every area of film (I was hungry and just wanted to learn what it takes to make a film) from casting, grips to light, make up etc, but was most intrigued by directing and did a lot of 2nd and 1st AD jobs as well as producing and production coordinating. Yea so that's kind of my summarized journey and now I work as a freelance casting agent, director and writer in Windhoek.

What was your experience making the film Cries at Night?

Cries at Night is my debut short film as a film director and how exciting it has been. I have done a couple of student films I am interested in the human psyche, I am interested in how we as people relate to one another and exploring human emotions within the context of conflict, love, understanding, peace, etc.

Interview by Beti Ellerson (March 2011) 

Cries at Night by Oshosheni Hiveluah
Synopsis of the film Cries at Night

Lazarus meets Victor during an accident in which his niece is involved. Something about Victor leaves Lazarus restless and he can’t forget the encounter or the man. His restlessness turns into obsession when he begins to follow Victor and kidnaps him and locks him in a dark cellar. There they embark on a trip down memory lane. Victor is revealed as Lazarus’ former torturer who tormented and traumatized him in the dungeons before Namibia’s independence. Lazarus finds it hard to deal with his past, which has haunted him in his dreams ever since and craves for forgiveness and healing.

Director's Statement

Being born during the time of the Namibian liberation struggle I have always had a keen interest about the happenings of that time, mainly because I was raised in an environment with strong political motives. When I was younger and living in a refugee home with several other children there were always stories about certain traitors of SWAPO, who had betrayed our soldiers.

Now that I have grown older and more open minded I am keen to explore how it must feel for traitors to be living in a country they were accused of betraying. I strongly feel that regardless of our histories and past, especially amongst African people themselves, we need to learn to overcome our differences and reconcile, but this can only happen if we address the issues that have caused us pain in the past. It’s definitely a personal journey that every person chooses to walk or to not walk. With this film I hope to inspire first and foremost healing of self, which can hopefully trigger bigger things. I would also like to encourage discussion and debates around sensitive issues in order for us as a nation to overcome as opposed to licking our wounds and crying over spilt milk and learn to forgive ourselves and others.

Producer Statement (Media Logistics Nambia CC For Film and Performing Arts)

Namibia is a country, extremely popular for its film location for foreign productions, but however even if there are plenty of Namibian stories waiting to be told, local filmmakers still struggle considerably to tell their own stories. To me as a producer it is of great importance to work with local crews and being able to tell truly Namibian stories.

The main theme of ‘Cries at night’ explores the issue of reconciliation amongst the inhabitants of Namibia. Following fifteen years of independence and the election of Namibia’s second president in 2005 it is slowly time for a new Namibian generation to emerge. It is a generation that is growing up in a democratic state, open minded and not pre - occupied with the trials of the apartheid regime. It should be a generation honoring their forefathers for creating this nation but also a generation discussing and addressing issues concerning the past, the present and the future of their country. Only by confronting these issues we can find ways of overcoming them and to grow stronger as a nation. With this film we want to create awareness and initiate discussions on reconciliation within the borders of the country.

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