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This Eastern Cape film crew is telling rural stories and teaching school kids about film

by: Sisanda Ntshinga - 10 October 2016

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Kwanontsomi Enterprise is rooted on the outskirts of King Williams Town, and wants to tell stories from rural Eastern Cape, and inspire their community through film. They work with the community to create these films, and also pass on their knowledge through a school outreach programme.

The production company was founded last year by filmmaker Ntsikelelo Mavata (27), from Rhamnyiba in the Eastern Cape. When he left his village to pursue his studies in Documentaries and Drama for TV in Joburg and later Cape Town, he knew he would always come back home and tell the stories there. “I knew I wanted to make films from the first time I watched a bioscope at an elderly neighbour’s house for 50 cents when I was six,” he says.

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Ntsikelelo says when he later went to live with his father in Motherwell, a township in Port Elizabeth, he experienced watching a movie at the cinema for the first time, and started dreaming of creating what he saw on screen. “By the time I got to high school,” he says, “I had started writing scripts for plays at church.” So after matric he moved to Joburg to study at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking and says from the first day he knew he had made the right decision.


The community forms part of the cast and crew for Kwanontsomi Enterprise’s films.

The importance of teaching school kids

But after his studies Ntsikelelo says he soon realised that there was a shortage of mentors who were willing to listen to the input of up-and-coming filmmakers. “There isn’t a huge support structure for young filmmakers in this industry, which is why I found it important to pass on the skills I had learnt at school,” he says. So when he went back home to start this project he approached three friends who wanted to give back to the community as well and had the skills to contribute to the production company.

“We started using what we had as a collective to create films and worked with the community to make them,” says Ntsikelelo. To date, the company has created three short stories, two documentaries and one feature-length film with the community forming part of the crew and cast. One of the short stories Illolo Lenkonde features well-known South African actor Moshoeshoe Chabeli.

This was not enough and they decided to start a school outreach programme where they spent a week at Victoria Mxenge High School, workshopping with students on storytelling and cinematography. “We worked with around 35 to 50 students in grades seven through to 11 who did everything from coming up with ideas, scriptwriting, directing, sound and camera work,” Ntsikelelo says. They plan to have more of these activations across schools in the Buffalo City Municipality. “The learners did very well and going forward we aim to teach more advanced skills like editing.”

The community’s involvement 

Ntsikelelo says the support from the rest of the community has been incredible and keeps them going when things get tough. “They’ve even come to pray for us. They have been really supportive and understand that the work we do could open doors for others as well.” Going forward Ntsikelelo says the company wants to help improve the local TV channel Bay TV, to create content that can compete with international broadcasters. “We already supply content to them and are currently working on a series that we plan to broadcast soon.” To see some of the work Kwanontsomi Enterprise have done watch the pilot of the film entitled Kwanontsomi below.

Photography: Bonani Yameni and Gqabi Njokweni

Stay in touch with Kwanontsomi Enterprise through their Facebook page

This piece was first published by Red Bull Amaphiko