2011 Award Recipients
Oshosheni Hiveluah | NamibiaBorn in Luanda, Angola in 1981, Oshoshensi grew up in East Germany for the majority of her childhood. In 1990, she moved to Namibia, directly after the country gained independence from South Africa. She went on to study in Cape Town and began working on film sets. In late 2004, she returned to Namibia and started working in theatre, writing plays and shadowing and assisting theatre directors. In 2005, she wrote her first screenplay for a student filmmaking workshop. Beginning that same year, Oshosheni started working at a film production company where she was involved in the production of international films shooting in Namibia, local documentaries and short films. In 2010, Oshosheni left the production company and started a casting agency called Shooting Stars. Her current focus is making films and running her casting agency.
How did you hear about Africa First, and what made you apply?
I heard about it through a producer and knew 2 of the filmmakers who had been awarded with the reward in the past.
Had you seen the work of earlier Africa First filmmakers? If so, did those films inspire you to apply?
Yes I did, I saw Abyss Boys by JH Beetge and the sci fi short Pumzi by Wanuri Kahui. Such good work.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I was born in Luanda, Angola, then I lived in the GDR for most of my childhood in a boarding school with other Namibian children. I had a very happy kinda chldhood, I was definitely encouraged to explore my childhood, to hone what I was good at, play sports and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, I had an amazing time and most the kids I grew up with have become a family extension of sorts, so I am grateful.
What was the first movie your remember seeing?
The Neverending Story, I think I was around 6 or 7 and it was my first time in a cinema and the experience was unforgettable. That Fuchur character (that flying dog) scared me to bits at first, but I was enchanted by the world of cinema from that day on. I felt like for the 2 hours while I was in the cinema I was living in the story and it was an incredible feeling. And even though I had no idea at the time that this film was a trigger for me to make films one day, it definitely made me fall in love with cinema.
What was the first film that made you want to be a filmmaker?
Sarrarouina made me realize that I could also tell stories that I could relate to. Film making especially always seemed like such a foreign concept to me for people who lived in Hollywood and I was merely to be a spectator of it all. I knew I wanted to be able to tell stories and I did that through a lot of different mediums at first, photography, theatre, poetry and when I realized I could tell stories through pictures, it was
How would you define African Cinema?
African cinema is not a concept that lives in a forest or on the mountaintop that we visit whenever we get inspired to tell a story. It’s an ever-evolving movement, process that’s always growing, shaping, molding itself. It’s deep within (in the heart, in our society and culture). African cinema consists of the films that tell of the African continent, by people of African descent who take what they see or feel with a desire to see it magnified, scrutinized on the big screen. That’s my definition of African cinema.
Who are some of your most important influences or heroes—either in film or elsewhere?
Honestly so many people have influenced me in my life. I am really inspired by strong women who defined stereotypes, who fought for what they believed in, cos they made me want to do what I wanted to do, regardless of whether people said it could not be done.
Because there are only a handful of women that I know of that make films I try to follow their work closely and I am really influenced and inspired by strong women like Tsitsi Dangaremba, I really also admire Gerry Elsdon, I think she is so amazing and dynamic and spiritual.
What filmmakers do you most admire—and why?
It always kind of changes but at the moment I am completely blown away and in admiration of the work of African filmmakers who in the absence of functional film industries still manage to make amazing films. I really like Djo Munga’s work at the moment. It’s inspiring to see that despite circumstances he was able to make this amazing film.
One of my all time favorite filmmakers is Fatih Akin, I love the way he weaves his Turkish backgrounds into the films he makes, just something spectacular about how he does it and I love the way that his films are honest to the audience I never feel cheated when watching his films.
One African film that I have always really liked is by Dani Kouyate. Ousmane Sembene has paved a way in African cinema and there are also some South African directors I like. It’s great to know that we can make the films we want to.
I am also a huge fan of Italian cinema, got to love Frederic Fellini and South American films as well.
If you couldn’t be a filmmaker, what would you do?
I would probably still be a storyteller of sorts, since I come from a background of theatre and performing arts I would certainly do something in that line. I also would love to be a novelist or a poet or a painter. All I know is that I was born to be part of the creative African movement and no matter what that’s what I’ll do.