Report from Fraser McFadyen – UK Representative
Our screenings are well underway and during the past two weeks we have undertaken 16 screenings to audiences in excess of 2000. We have also been able to carry out a thorough testing on the solar powered mobile cinema kit – it has performed extremely well keeping up with our busy schedule.
The PFP agriculture films have gone down particularly well in the farming communities where they are clearly inspired and motivated to get on and try out some of the methods highlighted in the films.
The training period is also now coming to an end I’m so pleased to say that we ended this on a real high note. The last two screenings went especially well, and the one in Gogode village was one of the most memorable of the trip. Audience response to the film is always lively and warm, but in this case it was especially so; they really seemed to connect with it. Everything went so well, and we even seemed to manage to hang the screen flatter than usual, and the sound seemed louder. The partner organisation was Build On who are keen to arrange additional screenings at their other centres.
Alfred and Gentry are now fully trained and will continue with the screening programme when I leave them later this week to meet up with Jonathan Mbuna, Malawi Representative in Lilongwe where we will work together on further film distribution plans for Malawi.
Blantyre and Mulanje
After 5 and half weeks of travelling and screening around rural Malawi, we finally hit the metropolis of Blantyre, which, despite being the country’s business district, still seems calm, clean and friendly.
A very passionate representative from local NGO, SRGDI (Sustainable Rural Growth Development Initiative), took us 20km out of the city to Chikuli trading centre for an evening screening with an enthusiastic audience who really got into debating the issues of Mbeu Yosintha.
The next day, we travelled 40km south to Nkando trading centre, 20km from Mulanje, the epic mount Mulanje shimmering through the heat haze. Our friendly rep from REFORD took us on a tour into town, past vast tea plantations and onto the lower slopes of the lush, green mountain.
We had a great double-bill that evening of both Mawa Langa and Mbeu Yosintha, with insightful discussions from the area’s younger members, who excitedly cheered each other on.
And then we came back to Blantyre and arrived at the big four-oh! Our final screening was at Blantyre Secondary School with MANAD. It was unique to all the previous 39, the audience being made up of deaf members of the community. It was pretty amazing to see them engaging with Mawa Langa and then discuss the characters and issues in great detail – one aspiring filmmaker even pointed out the storyboarding and directing tips he’d picked up – another first for the Kugawana festival.
And that pretty much sums up our experience over the past 6 weeks. We have shown PFP’s fantastic, educational dramas across the length and breadth of Malawi – and every single screening and audience has been memorable and special in its own way. From the reactions to the comments; from the venues to the ever-changing beauty of the country – it has been one special journey.
Our forthcoming Mobile Film Festival in Malawi offers an exciting and worthwhile opportunity to make a real contribution to the welfare of rural communities in one of the poorest countries in the world.
PFP is seeking someone with a real commitment to development, good organisational skills and experience of traveling in Africa to go out to Malawi for six weeks during the summer of 2014 in order to join our Mobile Film Festival Team in the role of UK Representative.
This is a volunteer post with no pay, but airfares, work-related travel within Africa, and board and lodging are all provided.
For further information including job description and how to apply, please click on the links below.
Mark Roper, supporter of PFP partner organisation Temwa, recently visited Malawi and was present on the very first occasion when our HIV/AIDs drama, Mawa Langa. was screened in the field. His enthusiasm was such that, immediately upon return, he sent us the following informal account – We arrived by boat at Ruarwe after dark – about 6.30 ish. The TV (an old fashioned quite small one) DVD player, sound system and generator were unloaded and set up on the beach. At this stage a few kids had arrived and plonked themselves down on the sand.
Once everything was wired up the generator was turned on – and nothing happened. The extension lead was broken – so this was “fixed” and the repaired joint was buried in the sand! We then discovered that there was no TV or DVD remote so there was much fiddling of the manual controls until the former sparked into life. Sporadically.
Jumbo from Temwa then put on the crowd pullers – Zambian music videos! By this stage a crowd had gathered on the beach and it soon increased once the music started blaring out. Sporadically. Because at this point we realised that the generator wasn’t powerful enough to drive the TV, sound system and DVD – so the telly kept cutting out! A man was dispatched to collect the village generator. And all the while the crowd was growing….
After several videos of Zambian bump and grind (not sure what message that was sending but hey….it got the crowd in) I estimate there was something like 350-400 people watching – pretty much the entire village I would imagine. And the fact that Jumbo kept replaying the same two videos didn’t seem to fazed them at all.
By now the generator was replaced and everything was functioning – so it was time for the movie. No DVD remote meant we had to play the track without English subtitles so we hoped that they would all understand – as the local language is Tumbuka not Chichewa. Jumbo briefly explained what was going to happen – and the film started.
It was immediately clear that it spoke to the local people – from the title sequence which was full of familiar scenes of Malawian life. They were entranced and started entering into the spirit – even though some of them may not have heard it all as the sound quality wasn’t great and there were so many people there – plus the generator was chugging along in the background. There was a collective groan when Effie’s mother died, whistles and catcalls when the baddies appeared – and laughter too. They were totally engrossed from start to finish – and we had two brief breaks in the film whilst Jumbo discussed the issues raised with the crowd – who entered into the debate with huge enthusiasm. At the end there was another debate and then calls for the whole thing to be replayed.
I cannot really put into words how magical it was – sitting on a beach under the Milky Way watching the crowd watching the film was an experience that will live with me – and I’m sure Dan – for the rest of my life. And to those of you who were involved in the production (excuse my ignorance but I don’t know who you all are!) – congratulations. I think you’ve made something that resonates with the local people and talks to them in a way that they totally understand. I hope you get the chance to see it in Malawi one day!
Purple Field Productions is proud to announce that our HIV and AIDS awarenes drama, Mawa Langa made in association with Temwa and YONECO in Malawi, has won an award at the Picture this … film festival 2011 in Calgary, Canada.
The Festival is celebrating its 10th year and attracts entries from all over the world. Mawa Langa has won the award for the Best Drama over 30 minutes. The presentation will take place at the Gala Evenng on February 12th 2011.