An interview with director Vincent Moloi
After Men of Gold, your African Metropolis contribution Berea is your second film dealing with the topic of now economically disadvantaged white people.
What is your fascination with this subject matter?
Interestingly this time the idea came about a brain storming sessions with colleagues. So it’s not mine but that of our many thoughts and observations with my colleague. It’s what stood out for us about Jozi and its social shift. Personally, I'm fascinated with human experiences that are a trace of the
past but say a lot about forging the future. It’s an exciting contrast of time. But primarily here we were trying to understand a soul of a man left
standing by himself. A choice he made, I must add.
You are an accomplished documentary filmmaker. Are you planning on doing a feature length fiction film in the near future?
Over the years I have avoided opportunities doing a feature film. My first documentary called Luting, filmed in the Maluti mountains in Lesotho, is still
very dear to me even though most South Africans have not seen it. After directing more than ten TV dramas I did not want to just do a feature for the
sake of it. I wanted it to feel dear and have meaning. Believe me the feeling is very fulfilling. I'm glad to say we are now developing a feature film that
feels good to my intentions.
As a documentary filmmaker, do you believe fiction films have the potential to educate people about social issues as well?
Stories have amazing ability to boost social cohesion, heal and bridge boundaries. The form is not always essential. What is critical is content and its intention.
Do you produce films primarily for an African audience or for viewers outside of Africa?
I'm fascinated by human drama and that always determines my audience. I hope the stories I tell are for a human race that connects with experiences
in films I do. Without doubt, I am pro African in many ways. There is more beauty in this continent than in what's shared. And it’s up to us to change it.
Your film was selected to be screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, congratulations! How do you feel about that, and were you surprised?
I'm absolutely humbled by the selection. It reaffirms the kind of effort my colleagues and I put into our work. We have been patient, consistent and
honest to our voice. Toronto International Film Festival is amongst the most respected world cinema festivals globally, so we appreciate the reach the
film will have because of that.
Which director, African or otherwise, do you admire, and why?
No one in particular. This may sound very cliché but my peers inspire me in different ways. The likes of Norman Maake, Xoliswa Sithole, Tristan, Dumisani Phakathi, Lodi Matsetela, Khalo Matabane, Akin Omotoso, Rolie Nikiwe, Makgano Mamabolo, Trevor Calverly, Thabang Moleya, Teboho Malope, Vuyano Dlondlo, Teboho Mahlatsi, Mosese Semenya, Aryan Kaganof, Mfundo Mkhize, Lineo Sekeloane, Teddy Mattera and many others; the list is endless.
Do you think enough is being done to finance, support and promote local South African productions and introduce them to an international audience?
There has been an enormous effort and I am personally grateful for that. But it goes without saying there is more ground to cover. Institutions like NFVF and the Gauteng Film Commission have been great even with the challenges they face. Now we have the Goethe-Institut supporting films and
filmmakers in the continent. I wish the broadcasters would come on board. The likes of Channel4, Arte and HBO have supported films for TV.
TV is the new cinema and the sooner local broadcaster wake up to that, the better.
What do you think of South African stories being filmed by Hollywood, like the recent “Zulu” and “Winnie” for instance. Do you think the films do South Africa’s history justice or would you prefer to see South Africans take on these productions?
The first price would be for people to tell their own stories. But we can't make stories exclusive. The world is not like that. If we feel strongly about
telling our stories then we need to compete and create space for our people to tell their own stories. And this is a responsibility of all of us.
Why did you originally choose to become a filmmaker, and what do you love most about directing?
It was purely circumstantial. I wanted to be a talk radio host but I was not so articulate. So TV was an option because I did not have to talk but show.
The principal was the same though, share thoughts and ideas for the good of the world. Contrary to what film schools will tell you, directing to me is
about what you want to know, it’s never a definitive process, at least this is my view.
What are your plans for the future in terms of filmmaking?
I don't know really. But I'm certain that the principal will be the same: to try and change the world while I can, in the best way I can.
Miriam Daepp of the Goethe-Institut interviewed Vincent Moloi ahead of the Toronto International Film Festival.