9 February 2018

Lesotho: Grapefruit Gets Warm Reception

BUDDING Lesotho film director, Ts'episo Mahase says, her biggest vision for Lesotho's film industry is to see the local filmmakers putting together their unique ideas into motion and telling stories from their local perspective.

Her short film, GRAPEFRUIT, was released on Vimeo on 31 January this year, and she believes it will contribute to putting the country's young film industry on the map.

Telling the Weekender this week, Mahase said her vision for the Lesotho film industry was to see local ideas transformed into compelling work of art.

"We are Basotho and understand who we are, but we seem to lack confidence when it comes to telling our own stories and prefer celebrating foreign stories," Mahase said.

Born and raised in Maseru, Mahase studied film at the South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance; and City Varsity.

Explaining the making of her latest film GRAPEFRUIT, she said it was initially an opening scene she had envisioned while writing the script. "The song from the folk story, Tselane le Limo, stuck in my head. It's interesting, from there, it developed into the final production," Mahase said.

She said, from a distance, the film GRAPEFRUIT was a tale about Basotho lovers whose connection is rooted in an unhealthy-practices.

It stars Ramosoeu Lesoli as Molise and Mpho Sephelane as Neo; and narrated by Molise.

"The response we got so far really surpassed my expectations. It has encouraged me to soon shoot another short film and enter some film festivals to expose Lesotho talent far and wide."

Although Mahase currently stays in Cape Town, South Africa, the film was shot in Lesotho. "It offers an insight into the beautiful locations we have here in Lesotho, and it is really a good way to see the potential that we have in our beautiful country," she said.

Mahase rejected the perception that there was lack of originality in the local arts sector.

"There are plenty of fresh ideas. The challenge is with the directors or decision makers who do not appreciate new concepts due to fear of the risk that comes with making such decisions. But the problem is, how then do we know what we have and our capacity if we are not willing to take a plunge and see what happens?"

She emphasised the need to view the world from different perspectives. "There is so much diversity in the world of arts, because we exist in different parts of the world, therefore we see life through different lenses. As a result, it would not be true for someone to then say, I've seen this before. We should not deny our realities and experiences of others," Mahase said.

As a female film director, she acknowledges the industry is largely controlled by men, hence the need for more women to develop skills that will bring a different twist to the industry.

"We are still celebrating a lot of firsts for black women and that reflects very poorly on the design of the film industry. I would like to make a mark through my contribution and encourage more women to join me in this interesting journey."

Her advice to aspiring film directors is: "Be sure about what you want and be bold to write your script. Share your ideas with others, including up-and-coming film makers and those already in the industry, to broaden your understanding and artistic ability. If there is a filmmaker whose style is similar to your own, read their scripts and make sure that you are learning something from them. Don't be afraid to reach out to other people because they might offer some valuable insights," Mahase said.

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