When Sunday Standard last heard from Thabiso Maretlwaneng, he was thrilled at having been nominated for the Best Documentary category at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival (NYIIFVF), which is one of the largest independent film festivals in the world that gets entries from over 40 countries worldwide.
After attending the festival in New York, Maretlwaneng is back and has brought home the Best Soundtrack award from experience, which he says gave him validation of the objective of the Head Up documentary.
“The award relates well with the documentary; I fulfilled my intention of showcasing the rappers filmed in the documentary as artists,” he said.
“All the artists that were involved, recorded music specifically for the documentary around the subject matter of keeping one’s head up,” said Maretlwang. These artists are notables in the Australian hip hop scene, such as Kritikal, whose music video is currently number one on Australia’s premier pay music channel, Channel V; ThreeSixty, which is a crew of three members Mike Justice, Chapter One and Gemstones.
Maretlwaneng says the competition for the Best Documentary category was heated. “Touching humanitarian documentaries tend to win the day,” he said. “Like we have seen, titles such as Born Into Brothel raked awards in the past.” He was referring to a 2004 documentary filmed in Calcutta whose subjects were children of prostitutes living in Calcutta’s red light district.
He says that he believes he did ‘fairly good.’
“Being nominated was good enough and the award proves that I have a skill of working in line with music.” He says now he has a publicist in America whom he liaised with during his trip to the NYIIFVF.
“She will be marketing the documentary to black film organisations, festivals and networks such as BET and HBO. Shipping it to all of them.”
Another positive outcome of the trip is an ongoing negotiation with ITN Distribution Company, the festival’s distribution wing. With headquarters in New York and Las Vegas, ITN Distribution, Inc. travels to major film and television markets and has acquired quality products from all over the world, Maretlwaneng says.
“We are still negotiating and there is a lot of paper work to go through before we can sign a deal,” he said.
It does not end here for Maretlwaneng who is also looking forward to participating in the South African and Durban International Film Festivals, and other festivals in Australia, America and Europe.
Though he struggled to find sponsorship to travel to New York to attend the ceremony, the American Embassy, along with Ren Partson, a Maun-based businessman, funded Maretlwaneng’s trip.
“I was representing Botswana’s film industry, and everywhere I went, once they found out I was from Botswana they would refer to the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency movie.”
“However, I wish sponsors would have as much faith in us local filmmakers and give us an opportunity to make them proud internationally,” he said.
Head Up will be screened on Channel O, Dstv’s music channel and screened in Gaborone, at the end of May.