Director Ntshavheni Wa Luruli has worked on international feature films, music productions, commercials at various capacities as assistant director, writer and director. Has worked with directors like Milos Forman and Spike Lee.
His last film Elelwani will open the African Film Week in Athens.
-What was the idea behind Elelwani?
Elelwani is an adaption from a novel by a renowned Venda novelist who wrote using indigenous language. I chose to use the theme of struggle for change and transformation as a challenge for the new South Africa; a metaphor for South Africa that is trying to navigate between what it was, and what it is in terms of retaining and affirming our past while acknowledging the new dynamic modern existence.
-What is the current state of South African filmmaking? Do you feel that the different languages and the rich culture of South Africa are represented properly in today’s cinema?
It is very hard to make a film in South Africa. Since I made Elelwani four years ago, am still struggling to get funds to make another film. There has been some small progress with young filmmakers coming to the fore with the help of government incentives. Afrikaans films are the ones that are really booming in South Africa.
-Why do you make films?
I’m a story teller. And I think there is so much to tell about South Africa to the rest of the world out there. For a very long time we were not allowed to tell our own story. Our stories were told by other people on our behalf, which was not good.
-How was your collaboration with Spike Lee? Would you think of doing another international film?
I learnt a lot working for Spike. He is one person that gave me an opportunity to cut my teeth as a filmmaker in his own company 40Acres and a Mule Filmworks. The only problem is that everybody seems to see Spike Lee in my films. Disappointing.
-The Wooden Camera won Crystal Bear. Did that award make it easier for you to shoot Elelwani?
Not at all. Am still struggling to get funds for my next projects. Excellence is not something that my country acknowledge and celebrate that much. If I was born somewhere, in the U.S for example, I would be getting offers, and making films every year.
-You are also teaching cinema. What do you say to young people that approach you saying they want to become directors?
I tell them passion and talent is not enough. You got to have some element of madness as well.
-What are your next projects?
I am developing a film about saving our Rhinos; preserving our heritage for our children and humanity sake. If there is a producer out there who would like to join me I’d be very happy. The exchange rate in South Africa is very favorable. It would not be too expensive to make such a film. There are government incentives and international co-productions are welcome.