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Local film scoops Best film award In California

As the creative landscape continues to strive in leaps and bounds in Botswana, local creatives continues to raise Botswana’s flag high. Local filmmakers Nicky Bazhuzha, Kevin Sebolao and crew emerged victorious at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival, in California for Best Short Film.

The Silicon Valley African Film Festival (SVAFF), was founded to confront the sad reality that after over 50 years of post-colonial rule in Africa, most of Africa’s narrative is still presented to the world through a foreign lens with narratives that have created blurred interpretations and perceptions of Africa and Africans.

The affordability of film making tools in the last few decades, prompted an exponential growth of the African film industry with African film-makers eager to share the true stories, hopes and dreams of Africa with the global community. Through this plartform many Africans continue to share their stories through the African lens. After the Isang Ntle crew expressed interest in entering the film festival, the crew had to showcase their films in California, USA, were 86 other African films were being showcased. “We got the award at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival for Best Short Film Narrative, because of our good narrative which is what they were looking for at the festival. That means we had the best narrative in the short film category at the festival against other contestants from Africa and the diaspora,” Tricia Sello the Executive producer shared with WeekendLife.

Gobe; The Gift ’is the name of the film which was showcased. The film is centered on a young woman's journey of self-discovery after the passing of her father. She realizes she has power within her that she didn't know she possessed. “It is an African narrative that has infused multi-cultural elements such as dance moves from all over Southern Africa and two of our indigenous languages, Setswana and Sekalaka,” she said. She went on to say, that it takes creativity to bring out an impeccable film. “Batswana are amazingly creative and have world class stories to tell. The beauty of our storytelling and the amazing culture we drew inspiration from as Isago Ntle Films propelled us. All the elements of the short film; the cinematography, sound, music, acting, dancing and languages used worked very well and showcased our diversity as a Batswana.” She remarked.

Sello also explained that the fact that they had European and American citizens of African descent competing with them and they won is a blessing that they will forever be grateful of.  “We all possess gifts that we might not be fully aware of and sometimes it takes a tragedy to push us to release that power,” she said. The potential of Batswana that keeps spreading across boarders attest to their capability and that it is time they are noticed in our country. Sello is of the view that Batswana productions are doing well in the world. “Just last month we got word that a documentary by Tumi Rasesia, titled ‘Moriri’, was an official selection at Sotambe; a documentary film and arts industry, and there are others who are doing very well internationally. There is great need for investment in film, and right now that's all we are waiting for; investors to come to the table. If the world recognises our contribution to the creative industry, why can't our own people invest in us so we do more?” she said.

Isang Entle also won eight awards at the 2019 48HR Film Project Gaborone competition, including Best Film. They will be representing Botswana at the 2020 Filmapalooza Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands. They have been invited to compete against the top 3 films from all the 48HR Film Projects across the world and they are trying to raise funds for that. Early bird registration is P2,100 after that it's P2600 and anyone willing to assist is most welcome.

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Given Carter fools Batswana – again

11th May 2021
Given Carter

Pranks, for a common man, is designated to the 1st of April- April fool’s day. Usually it’s the only day out of the entire 365 days one can make a fool of others and get away with practically anything, anything legal that is.

While there are fanatics who do it for amusement, there are some who do it to earn their daily bread and butter. Some obviously saw a niche to keep people fascinated especially in these emotionally straining times of COVID-19. For the record, they don’t play ordinary cards as you may think.

Their pranks are as big and as real as marriage wrecking and all the drama that comes along with it. Given Carter is not just your ordinary boy next door. The Tonota born prankster is currently taking the entire country on an emotional rollercoaster from the comfort of his home in Francistown.

At only 32-years, Carter BW’s skills of planning and executing a prank is what sets him apart from the rest. In fact one can go as far as to say that he’s the only prankster Batswana know.His ideas are unique and relevant, telling a tale that someone can sit and think about, perhaps learn from it because they are everyday life happenings that most people can relate to because they have a way of really hitting home.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, the versatile Given Carter (who is also a photographer) says the inspiration behind pranking was to introduce something not so common in Botswana, and challenge typecasts associated with art, especially modern art.

“Growing up, we only saw pranks on the television dominantly done by the whites. We never thought this is something we can do, or maybe we didn’t understand the logic behind it. But I guess, pranks are real life lessons we need, its only that they are shared in a more hilarious and sometimes obstinate way,” he said.

Given Carter told this publication that, he spends most of his time on the internet, learning more tricky skills. This is quite a remarkable observation because in this era of advanced technology, one doesn’t necessarily have to go to school to learn from the grassroot. The use of technology has made it easier for people to acquire skills and knowledge, and still do exceptionally well without being in class.

“Of course, a bit of it is common sense but I make use of the internet to learn more on how I can improve my craft. It is quite unpretentious to do a prank because they are real-life situations, so its not much of a big deal. I needed people to learn and I think I came at the right time because most people are online, and the reception is just incredible.”

He however shed light on his first video shot in Shakawe that went viral, subsequently leading to speculations of his crew’s arrest. Given Carter was however not arrested instead he was brought before the police for questioning.

“We were not arrested as people may think. We were called to write statements on what the prank was all about and we were released the same day. I believe maybe we went too far in what we depicted in the video because it’s something that the society is not yet ready to accept, but it has been happening for a long time,” he told WeekendLife.

In many Western countries, pranksters do this for a living through YouTube accounts and subscriptions. “As it is currently, I do not have a YouTube channel. I am still building a platform and I’m certain very soon it will be up and running. I am primarily focused on taking my craft to the people, and let people know more about what I do. So technically, it has been about familiarising people with the art.”

Even though that’s the case, Given Carter says there is room for paid partnerships and endorsements. After all, there is an entire crew which need money to pay the bills. He says with so much ideas spinning in his head, there is need for financial support to be able to dish out more seeing that people love his works and how realistic his pranks are.

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Vee, Charma Gal battle it out for fellow artistes

4th May 2021
Vee, Charma Gal

Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.

In these unprecedented times of the overwhelming and the deadly COVID-19, it is only critical that people stand together and remain committed to helping each other, being kind enough to lend a helping hand in any way possible.

The contagious virus left people confounded, deprived and depressed. The pandemic shuttered many economies, industries and the entertainment sector was no exemption. If anything, the entertainment industry took the biggest hit of all the sectors but this was a hit felt in every country in the world not just a local tragedy.

There were tear-jerking testimonies of creatives, in particular artists, suffering from extreme hunger as events were given a rain check. Technically, social events have been shut for sixteen months now.

There were series of protests calling for the immediate opening of the creative sector, in a phased manner. Some brave yet unfortunate artists were arrested for taking up arms and protesting the strict COVID-19 regulations placed on the entertainment sector.

When protests failed and their laments falling on government’s usual deaf ears, prominent artists Odirile Sento, popularly known as Vee together with Magadeline Lesolobe (Charma Gal) took the liberty of playing as big of a part as they could to consolidate some resources for musicians which might be of assistance during these trying times.

COVID-19 has created untold challenges for musicians in Botswana, but there are possibilities- challenges have a way of breeding solutions nonetheless.

In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday, Vee said the Battle to Develop Artists Welfare is aimed at inspiring artists to learn diversification, which has been lacking for quite a stretch amongst fellow artists. A lot of local artists depend solely on music, which on its own has been performing below par, and COVID-19 has brought that into clear view, showing how most artists in Botswana live off scraps, barely making money off their beloved passion- music.

“This project was born out of compassion. The world as it is now is experiencing a rough patch, and you can imagine how other artists are coping. It is really a struggle, and we saw it critical to jump on-board and help our fellow colleagues. It will help artists start small businesses, some will start short courses which will enable them to find employment in the long run.

For it to have weight, we incorporated it into a challenge on stage, performing our songs. We hope this will inspire business moguls to sponsor and pledge some monies towards this initiative,” said Vee.

Charma gal indicated that the live battle on stage has been supported with musical instruments, further indicating that this is a volunteerism project with no proceeds to gain from.

“We will divide and disburse proceeds to our fellow artists, I mean these are people we have been working alongside for so many years. There is no how we can be reckless towards them when we see how hard the situation is.

We are in this together, and we are going to stick together like that. Some have started already doing something, and meeting them half way is only fundamental,” Charma Gal told WeekendLife.

The duo stressed that Gaborone North Member of Parliament, Mpho Balopi, has pledged P50 000 towards this battle, further calling on other businessmen to come to the party. Vee says Balopi supported the initiative from the get-go, brushing aside allegations that the project is politically influenced.

Initiatives brought forward to aid the entertainment sector have caused controversy, with Vee emphasizing that not all artists will benefit from this particular charity cause. “We have artists who are struggling, and sadly so. Some of them were bread winners and there is no income coming in, making it hard for them to cope with the economic challenges.

There has been an increase in VAT recently, and such developments make the situation worse. Rigorous assessments will be done to identify our desired beneficiaries.”

Vee and Charma Gal will be battling it out on stage with the battle scheduled to take place on the 28th May 2021. Because events are still striped, the show will be online with COVID-19 protocols to be adhered to.

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BOMU, MYSC kiss and make up

27th April 2021
BOMU-VEE

Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions.

2020 was a depraved year for the local entertainment industry. Music festivals, large gatherings and concerts were given a rain check as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the deadly Corona-virus. As for an industry that depends solely on events for survival, the move to shelf gigs was literally kicking a dog when it’s down.

There was no revenue coming in, and depression found its way into the already devastated industry. Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare, was fingered in this muddle. He was censured for being hushed. The relief fund also sparked controversy, with many creatives of the belief that it’s prejudiced and impractical.

Early December last year, scores of disgruntled artists congregated at GSS grounds seeking government to address their plight in the face of the COVID-19 restrictions. The situation became chaotic as police officers told the artists that the gathering is illegal and that they should get a permit first. Artists decided to go the right way, applying for a permit to hold their meeting, and this time around in Old Naledi.

Creatives (most of which are BOMU members) came out swinging as they packed Old Naledi grounds in a show of strength against the COVID-19 Task team and politicians. But gathering a large crowd at the Old Naledi grounds was like playing a game of Russian roulette, as most of the attendees were potentially exposed to the Corona virus because there was no social distancing, wearing of masks, nor sanitization.

Artists however were clearly making their voices heard – they wanted their industry opened, but by the look of things the Task Force team will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat for this to be given the greenlight before another year comes to pass. Till date, the creative industry is still abandoned.

Following a series of protests, the custodian Ministry (MYSC) came up with virtual gigs and engaged artists for performances. However, this fuelled tension between upcoming artists and those who are already household names. In late December 2020, a group of young artists demanded answers from the Youth Ministry on how the so called ‘Big Artists’ secured virtual gigs from the Ministry.

A new BOMU Executive Committee was ushered in August last year which saw the Union and the custodian Ministry smoke a peace pipe. Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is an organization that works as an intermediary between registered artists and the Youth Ministry.

On Friday (16th April 2021) at a press conference to launch the 10th BOMU music awards, BOMU President Phemelo ‘Fresh’ Lesokwane said the Union has effectively managed to rebuild and earn back trust with its stakeholders, including MYSC and De Beers.

“These two entities have been BOMU music awards’ top sponsors for the past 10 years. We have managed to revive the awards and appoint a person who I will refer to as a brand marketing specialist. There has been a lot of miscommunication peddled around and as a leader of BOMU, I will be irresponsible to ignore all of it,” Fresh said.

Fresh is definitely not MYSC nor Minister of Rakgare’s spokesperson, but he had this to say: “It is very important I clear up the distortion of facts out there. MYSC and BOMU leadership have been hard at work, and in the previous year, we managed to push 90% of our members to register with COSBOTS so as to benefit from the subsidy. For the matter of fact, this did happen.

BOMU says it managed to convince MYSC to fund their 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). “The Ministry accommodated, paid all costs of accommodation and food for all the delegates who attended the AGM. This was a first for BOMU for as long as anyone can remember. I was so happy to see Minister Rakgare attending our AGM, which was for the first time also.”

Rakgare and his associates have been given a pat on the back for the national consultative meetings they took last year. They met with industry representatives and discussed calendar of events and how they should be rolled out. BOMU also pleaded with the Youth Ministry not to cancel events this year, and according to Fresh, the Ministry agreed.

“This is why they are helping with BOMU music awards and in due course, we will be calling the media to reveal the sponsorship. And on top of that, BOMU has access to the Minister and his circle of associates. They have their doors open for us, and we can’t be fighting with the Ministry while we see how welcoming it is to us. Lot of noise is made by non-BOMU members, which should be condemned in any way possible.

The Youth Ministry however, says it will engage on consultations with organizations, not individuals. This is why it is very important for artists to join BOMU now.”

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