Thabiso Maretlanweng’s documentary, Head Up, a documentary about the lives of young African refugees in Australia, and how they are influenced by hip hop culture has been selected to participate in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF), says a letter from the CEO of the annual film festival, Stuart Alson.
The documentary was shot while Maretlwaneng was a 3rd year film student at Swinburne University in 2006 in Australia, and he will have the opportunity to network with American buyers, distributors and members of the press over a period of 8 days at the NYIIFVF.
The festival has featured works by Andy Garcia, Benjamin Bratt, Cameron Diaz, George Clooney and Vin Diesel.
The NYIIFVF was established in 1993, and is the largest independent film festival in the world, and recognised by the film industry as one of the leading festivals, screening over 200 film premiers, high quality documentaries, short films and animations from around the world.
The scope of the festival ranges from high profile to novices.
The festival, which is also known as ‘the voice of independent film’, is competitive, and is dedicated to making things happen between filmmakers and screen writers. NYIIFVF has facilitated acquisitions with representatives from Lionsgate, HBO, Comedy Central etc.
Maretlwaneng, who is excited about the opportunity, says, “This is huge, and my fear is that Batswana may not recognise the magnitude of this achievement. My requests for sponsorships have been rejected because of the credit crunch,” he said.
“I suppose it’s because I’m not Mpule, but this is a major stride for Botswana filmmakers. Not only am I invited to screen my documentary, but also nominated for the Best International Documentary Film,” he said.
Maretlwaneng says that he has interviews lined up with the leading hip hop culture magazine in America, The Source and Hot 97, New York’s leading hip hop radio station.
“The film department at Swinburne University are actually publicising my achievements in the local media; mind you this was the first black hip hop documentary in Australia,” he said.
Maretlwaneng says he hopes this achievement will not go over people’s heads, as this is a door cracked open for Batswana produced films.