A Xhosa Sci-fi film based in the future wowed audiences in China this week when it opened the international BRICS Film Festival.
Stillborn, based on the story of a futuristic robot who is obsessed with her human ancestry, showcased to hundreds of festival goers on Thursday evening. Speaking to TshisaLIVE, the film’s director Jahmil XT Qubeka said that the unique idea for the film came from the desire to fuse his Xhosa heritage with his love for sci-fi films. “I grew up watching sci-fi films and, of course, my heritage is Xhosa. If I reflect on Xhosa and African culture there is a lot of potential sci-fi elements that I could draw from,” Jahmil said. The film was shown to audiences for the first time on Monday evening and Jahmil admitted that he was nervous that it would be “too creative” for audiences. “I thought that it would go over their heads and maybe we were too ambitious or creative with the project, but it was really well received,” he explained.
I grew up watching sci-fi films and‚ of course‚ my heritage is Xhosa. If I reflect on Xhosa and African culture there is a lot of potential sci-fi elements that I could draw from
The entire film was shot at night in several locations around Johannesburg, including inside refineries, mine shafts and the iconic Orlando Towers. The film’s lead actress Mandisa Nduna told TshisaLIVE that shooting the film took its toll on her physically and she had to go to the doctor at one point to make sure she had not developed pneumonia. She said the film was unlike anything she had been a part of before. “When I asked Jahmil what reference I should consult for my character, he told me that I should not look at any influences but really create a character from the ground up. I had to look inward and really find a new character. We all know about the sci-fi films coming out of Hollywood but this was so unique and I am so excited for audiences to see it,” she said. The 2017 BRICS Film Festival was held in Chengdu, southwest China from June 23 to 27. Over 30 films from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were screened at the festival.