17 November 2017

Namibia: Damara Film in Top 10 At British Film Awards

THE 'Damara King's Festival' film of last year's Damara Goab festival held at Okombahe was among the top 10 films at the arts and humanities research council's 'Research in Film' awards in London last week.

"We did not win the trophy, but somehow being shortlisted and being there was a real win for all of us. We did so well to make it to these awards," said Windhoek-based production manager Andrew Botelle. "Our two ladies from Namibia, Rosa Namises and Suro Ganuses, were glowing with pride."

'The Damara King's Festival' was a collaboration between Botelle's Mamokobo Video and Research, the Damara King's Festival Organising Committee, London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, and the University of Edinburgh's Centre for African Studies.

The film description reads: "Our film presents the 2016 Damara King's Festival, an annual event taking place in the village of Okombahe in western Namibia. Now in its 37th year, the Damara /≠Nu¯khoen people gather to sing, dance, eat, and receive counsel from their king, Justus |Uruhe /Garoëb. Lineages from all over the country arrive dressed in the emblematic blue, green and white colours of the Damara nation.

"Women wear long Victorian dresses and shawls that mimic the attire of influential colonial missionaries, while men are adorned in matching T-shirts and remnants of colonial and WWI military paraphernalia. Others remember their pre-colonial past by wearing costumes made of wild animal skins that supported their forebears.

"In 2016, the festival took place at the end of an intense three-year drought. Calling for rain formed a major focus of the festival which, in a potent moment of relief and gratitude, was blessed by the first showers of the season. This film offers an intimate portrait of one community's diverse celebration of itself."

Botelle said: "It was such fun to participate in the festival. I remember as I was filming it at the time that the cultural performances and musicians were world-class. I think this film reveals the rich cultural depth and passion of our Damara community in Namibia. It is a privilege and pleasure to be able to show the film in the UK. DVDs were distributed to schools in Namibia, and we are currently discussing with the NBC to have the film broadcast in Namibia."

Botelle has won several film awards, and is currently producing corporate films for B2Gold, as well as documentary films for the German aid agency GiZ.

In 2018, he will be producing a documentary about the Brandberg mountain in the Namib Desert, as well as a documentary about the value of wildlife for Namibia for the Namibian Chamber of Environment. Mamokobo Video and Research has produced more than 70 documentary films in the fields of history, science, environment and culture, and focus on bringing to life the oral histories of southern Africa.

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