Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Btv’s questionable procurement denying Batswana quality programming

Given her impressive resume and hotshot international producers she has worked with, it is not entirely incongruous that this expression applies as much to Tumi Sejoe, Botswana’s debutante at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival as it did to Jesus.

For the talented local film maker, trying to get her productions aired on local Btv may be like stooping to cast her precious pearls before swine. Botswana film industry’s next best thing has been accepted to show case her work at the 69th Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious film festival in the world ÔÇô a first for Botswana. Local film makers however swear that her productions will most likely be overlooked for the humdrum that is usually aired on the local television station Btv.

A local film maker Kgomotso Keloneilwe says it is not clear what it takes for one’s production to make it into Btv. “So much local content fails to make it into Btv because of the complicated procurement system.”   She says as a result a lot of bad quality material gets to be aired at the expense of good quality productions. “Talentless people go into the industry to make a quick buck and take advantage of the corrupt system.”

Keloneilwe is part of the team behind the short film ‘The Awakened Spirit’ which has been accepted to take part at the Cannes Film Festival in France next month. Local filmmaker Tumi Sejoe will attend this year’s 69th festival De Cannes in France from the 11th to 22nd May 2016 where she will showcase her film alongside other film makers from as many as 105 other countries. Speaking at a press conference to brief the media about her latest achievement Sejoe said she had been working on the 15 minute short film for the past five years.

Thanks to a P26, 000 sponsorship from Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) Sejoe said she managed to complete the project before trying her luck with the Cannes festival. She however admits she would have done better with a bigger budget. “Making a film is no stroll in the park,” she said. “It involves among many things; creating a perfect set, wardrobe for the cast, endless rehearsals, and finding perfect locations.”

She met her crew members back in 2007 during the shooting of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency film. She said the Cannes Short Film Corner gives unknown filmmakers like herself the much needed platform to share their work with an international audience. “Hopefully I will come back home with a distribution deal,” she said. The film’s cultural advisor and experienced actress Gaolape Basuhi said she fell in love with the script as soon as she read it. “I’m happy to be involved with the project.” The Awakened spirit also features Pauline Kgwarapi as the lead actress. “Seeing Tumi’s achievements is a huge encouragement to a lot of us women in this male dominated industry,” Kgwarapi said.

BIC’s Strategy Development & Marketing Manager, Komissa Burzlaff said she did not think twice about funding the project because of Sejoe’s enthusiasm and determination. “We hope she becomes a full-fledged filmmaker and puts Botswana on the world map.”

Sejoe has been involved in the film and television industry for over ten years and has experience in both local and international productions. Her creative background includes completing a mentorship programme at the BBC headquarters in London (UK), which included directing a 10 minute short film Get Real Beeb featuring British Actor, Rudolph Walker(east enders). She is also a 3rd Assistant Director on the upcoming feature film ‘A United Kingdom’, starring David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike and Terry Pheto.  Sejoe was also involved in the production of The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency as a 3rd Assistant Director. She worked under the late Anthony Minghella.

She also worked as a 2nd   Assistant Director on ‘Morwalela’, a ground breaking local television Series produced By South African Production Company Traffic.

The Awakened Spirit is Tumi’s directorial d├®but film project as an independent artist. It is a universal story of self-discovery, set here in Botswana. A chance encounter with an elder woman leads to the unfolding of Segametsi’s (lead character) life changing journey of discovery. The 15 minute short film is a cultural and inspirational film, performed in Setswana with English subtitles. The Festival de Cannes is an international film festival that takes place every year to celebrate cinematographic art.


Read this week's paper