30 November 2012

Namibia: The Audience Has Spoken

While some la-di-da jury was off giving Joel haikali’s ‘Try’ all the Namibian film awards along with the box they came in, the people of Windhoek headed out to screening venues all over the city to cast their vote for the Namibian Theatre and Film Audience Choice Award.

As audiences lent their eyes and ears to the collection of films being screened in make-shift cinemas at el Dorado high School, the Backstage Theatre, the National Theatre of Namibia (NTN), the American Cultural Centre and the Goethe-Zentrum, Oshosheni hiveluah’s ‘100 Buck’s’ reigned supreme after charming viewers at Supporter’s Sports Bar and the Franco- Namibian Cultural Centre.

Though the film was clearly in the running for the award after debuting to thunderous applause at the Namibia Film Commission premieres, there was no telling how the film would fare far from the industry back-patting session that was the invite-only event in July.

Faced with a crowd of sceptical eyeballs who had heard the hype and had come out to see it for themselves, ‘100 Bucks’ proved that the Windhoek we live in and the one hiveluah had scribbled into cinema is just as interesting as the latest Brazilian soapies locals had sacrificed seeing on those fateful evenings.

The charm of ‘100 Bucks’ lies in its treatment of the city we know so well, experienced by the delightfully genuine fictional characters we have seen driving cabs, hoping to sell us watches on the street or simply trying to get in on the next pie- in-the-sky scheme that is sure to make them rich.

in a triumph of casting, ‘100 Bucks’ employs the ensemble cast of two hapless and hilarious tsotsis played by Steven Afrikaner and Onesmus Upindi while David Ndjavera and Tanya Terblanche add to the funny in a consummately acted and typical scene in a taxi. Dramatic actresses lynn Strydom and Ripuree Tjitendero deal with Perivi Katjavivi’s alarming bouts of violence and remorse in the alternately amusing and serious cinematic offering.

Tjitendero, Katjavivi and Strydom were all nominated in their respective best actor categories at the Namibian Theatre and Film Awards for their flair for the dramatic and presented a glimpse into societal issues such as substance and spousal abuse as well as the perils of being a good-for-nothing.

What brings this great group of characters together is 100 bucks.

That coveted amount of money that sounds like a lot but slips cheekily through one’s fingers at the slightest provocation.

This can happen when a waitress loses it to her emasculated husband, when he blows it on a tsotsi scheme, when those tsotis lose it to a crooked cop, when that crooked cop pays a prostitute with it for her trouble, when the prostitute pays a taxi driver with it for a lift to school, when that taxi driver offers it to a business woman as change, when that business woman pays for lunch with it and it meets its final filmic owner as a bill paid in fancy restaurant.

All this is offset by various versions of ‘Mr. hundred Dollar Man’, composed by Steffen list who won the Namibian Theatre and Film Award for Best Original Music Score.

This win came before ‘100 Bucks’ was announced as the audience’s favourite and producer Mutaleni Nadimi and hiveluah took to the NTN stage to accept the coveted award.

Somewhat overwhelmed on stage, hiveluah said very little but a few days after the awards ceremony she had found some words to describe the feeling of making the film most beloved by local audiences.

“it’s an incredible honour, we as the producer and director team of the film are really happy that the people out there love our film and voted for it to be shortlisted in the audience choice category,” said hiveluah. “Winning that award means a lot, it’s a great award to win, because it’s the only award where the public gets to vote. in essence that is who we are making the films for, the Namibian audiences, so having them vote for ‘100 Bucks’ as their audience choice award is so humbling. We are so grateful.”

When asked why she thinks her film was so successful with audiences she believes that it was the local that they found so lekker.

“The idea was to create an urban story with Windhoek as a character and i think people probably liked the fact that they recognised places and the people and many of the situations that you see in the film, which were modelled directly from what i as the director and writer of the film experienced,” says hiveluah.

“i also just spent a lot of time being incognito in bars and restaurants listening and observing and picking up on situations that we used and recreated in the film.”

No doubt taking a large bite out of the Big Apple after receiving top marks from Namibian audiences, hiveluah is currently in New York attending the African Diaspora international Film Festival which will include screenings of six NFC films in ‘A Night in Namibia’ special event which will be followed by a panel discussion regarding Namibia’s film industry.

Be sure to watch the press for information on further screenings of ‘100 Bucks’ or as appropriate in New York... 11 and a Quarter Dollars.

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