In the wake of the African Movie Academy Awards (Amaa) nominations that were hosted in the country recently, CHEU MITA spoke with writer and film director, Tawonga Taddja Nkhonjera, about the making of his soon to be premiered film B’ella which focuses on the life of Form 3 students at Nankumba Community Day Secondary School specifically a 17-year-old girl called B’ella.
Progress on the film, so far?
Filming was completed, and now we are in the post-production phase. We are also working on the soundtrack to be done by recording artists from Dikamawoko Arts, Muhanya and myself. The soundtrack will be guitar based, predominantly, and we will also include the mbira, finger piano to bring in an African sound.
Of the filming process…
We always attracted huge crowds whenever filming and so to maintain silence when filming was a big problem.
In the example of the film City of God, we decided to make B’ella a community project and so we used the actual students from Nankumba Secondary School as our actors.
Who is involved in this project?
The primary players in the film are a Malawian NGO called boNGO and Dikamawoko Arts
What challenges did you meet?
The film was shot between December and January and unpredictable weather posed big problems in keeping with schedule. We were missing out on cinematic expression because of the lack of professional film equipment such as dollies, slider, jibs, specific lighting equipment, lenses, etc.
Another challenge was that the filming process takes a long time, from pre-production to principal photography and we lost some actors along the way like one got pregnant.
Tell us a story from the set.
We had staged a funeral scene and members of the village joined the procession to the grave crying, asking who had died. It was a little awkward to tell them that we were just acting out a part in the film. But they eventually understood and we all laughed about it.
When do we expect to see the film, B’ella?
The premiere would be around late May.
What should people expect from B’ella?
A film that will make them smile, laugh, wonder, gasp in awe at the beauty in some of the landscapes of Malawi; a film that will draw tears, put them on the edges of their seats… it is a full feature with all the drama that life brings. The full Monty, so to speak.
What are the plans for B’ella?
We will have the world premiere of B’ella in Blantyre on a date and venue yet to be confirmed. The international premiere is slated for the International Film Festival Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic in July. We will then later embark on a project called B’ella in Schools.