#LLAInterview Salamina Mosese: Sharing stories of African women through film and books

Salamina Mosese
Tell us about yourself

I am a proud South African woman with a passion for telling stories, discovering new things about myself and the world around me. I love the written word, reading books and travelling. I first fell in love with TV and film and all things media when I was just 13 years old, and my first feature on South African TV was on Soul Buddyz when I was just 14 years old.
I am married to the love of my life, Tshepo Howza Mosese and we have two daughters, Tumi and Thato

 

The production of “Baby Mamas” was truly amazing, how was it like for you?

Thank you. Baby Mamas was a life changing experience and has been the most exciting, exhilarating and nerve-wrecking experience of my life. I don’t think I have ever worked so hard in my life, and it stretched me in ways that I didn’t know was possible. The whole experience really opened my eyes to what was possible with our stories, and I was surprised by how well received it was, not only in South Africa but also by audiences all over the world where the film got to go. We had our international debut at the Toronto Black Film festival, and it was a sold out event. When we (my business partner and I) did the Q&A after the screening, we got a standing ovation and got to share on our challenges and triumphs. It is unforgettable. Following this, the film got to travel to New York, Lagos, Chicago, Washington, LA and back to SA.
It helped usher in a new era for me in my career.

Through your movies, you’ve been able to tell the stories of the ordeals of African women, what has been the inspiration?

My business partner and I are passionate about telling stories that put women in the driving seat; where the story is told from the women’s perspective. This is deliberate. Women have a unique gaze, one that isn’t explored enough in mainstream media. We tell stories that we ourselves can relate to, stories about the women we are, were or are becoming. It is our contribution into an industry that is far more comfortable with men in the bosses chair, and we want to be part of changing the narrative and building strong, memorable female characters.

What’s your take on the inclusion of African women in renowned movies?

In so many ways, African cinema is still trying to find its voice, its signature and its own style. We have beautiful, conflicted and moving stories still to tell, and I think there is still much work to be done in order to be able to firstly define African cinema and then to eventually shape it and then start colouring it in.
I am incredibly encouraged by women like Genevieve Nnaji, Mo Abudu, Wanuri Kahiu and Nosipho Dumisa- who continue to be trailblazers in this space- and show the rest of us women in the industry, what is possible. The work that these women have put out there is helping to usher in the much needed change.

As a film producer, what would you say that the African film industry is lacking generally?

For decades African filmmakers have struggled to present viewers with our own perspectives due to a lack of funding and investment, as well as a lack of distribution possibilities.
In addition to this, in many African countries our people are too often customers of Western film products, they get constantly bombarded with Western media. This is especially the case in South African cinema, where local filmmakers are often expected to go toe-to-toe with Hollywood films in our local cinemas. A complete David and Goliath scenario. Our total film budgets are nowhere close to those of the films that we compete with in our cinemas, and our cinema chains have long standing contracts with the big studios in America- those big budget films will always take centre stage- leaving little room for local filmmakers to really make a dent in this big machine.

I know one of the biggest challenges in South Africa is that when it comes to film; we are still developing an audience that is patriotic and fiercely loyal to our products. I think our audiences love our TV programmes and that part of the industry could go toe to toe with some of the best on the continent, but in terms of our films; we still have a long way to go.

You’re an amazing book author and we see that through the lens of your book “Disaster at Gogo’s Spaza”, give us a brief run-through of what the book is about and how it came about.

I have always loved to write, and I have wanted to write a book for a long time now. I just didn’t think that my first offering would be a children’s book. This book and this whole experience of launching the book, has been a dream come true and I look forward to seeing what more will come from this.

The book is a light hearted fictitious book about a Gogo and her grandkids and her famous spaza in Diepkloof, Soweto. It highlights the close family relationship, the close-knit community in and around the spaza shop, and is really about childhood, fun and the games that children play.

The book was inspired by my daughter and my nieces and nephews and is an ode to them and my love for them. It is also a silent node to my grandmother and all the happy memories I got to make with her before she passed on.

So, whenever you’re not producing movies or writing a book, what else would you be doing?

I love to spend time with my family, I love to travel and I am happiest when I am on the beach.

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