A meeting with the man who is driven to make films

Lenni Mdawini Sibanda

I have always read about his films. I had a chance to watch one of his works. Loved the story and went on a search for this man who is set to take the film industry by storm. Our meetings have always been postponed due to reasons that caught us off-guard. In a recent trip to the sunshine city, my dream of meeting the man who made a film out of his own coffers made me feel inspired and want to take a leaf from him and do more creative productions without a begging bowl.

“For me, filmmaking combines everything. That’s the reason I’ve made cinema my life’s work. In films, painting and literature, theatre and music come together. But a film is still a film.”-Akira Kurosawa

Our meeting happened under the lights of the Book café after listening to a discussion by filmmaker Knox Chatiza a film genius and a man with brains for films in Zimbabwe. Having surrounded myself with such individuals they was no other way I could have let Lenni Mdawini Sibanda slip off and go without answering one or two questions.

The beauty and the creativity of  Book Café completed my hunger of talking with creative marshals. I wished if I could sleep at the cafe because everything in here translated a creative home a house that ideas will flow without interruption as everything around it evolved around creativity.

ya

How did the dream start?
It all started after finishing a first novel manuscript and I found that people didn’t have time to read so I saw film as an accessible story telling medium and I jumped on it. It all started at Pumula and St Bernards High School with my two friends Melusi and Gilbert.
Who inspired you to write?
My friend Melusi Mnkandla he inspired my writing after winning Radio Dialogue Mthwakazi Literature Award (2008).
How many films do you have and titles?
I have three short films under my belt. Qiniso, She and Him and wonke. I also have a TV show “introspection”
What do you think should be done to have more local films in our cinemas?
Local filmmakers should stop complaining and start making films. People will go to the cinema to watch those films then corporates and government can take us seriously.
Tell us about your latest production?
My latest film is Qiniso a feature which will break new ground in Zimbabwe’s conventional film industry. It’s non-linear and with unique story line plus amazing acting.
Did you attend any film school?
I didn’t attend a film school. Someone once told me film will box you in theories. Film is production these days.
Who is your favorite Director?
My favorite international director is the late Akiro Kurosawa from Japan. He is a legend.
What should be done on the subject of remuneration of Zimbabwean Actors who should we blame for poor revenue in the film business?
It’s a fact actors are grossly underpaid. The solution is actors should create a union which exclusively protects their rights. Some corrupt producers especially those who scavenge for NGO and Embassy Funds are to blame, they are in it for money only.
What is your vision on Zim film?
My vision is more productions and less fear from filmmakers. Mistakes must be made when learning and let’s not cry for funding when we are not making products.
Tell us about your production company?
I get excited when I talk about Ya- Sibo? Media. Ya Sibo? In Ndebele is a question” can you see us?” I started this company with Thubelihle Moyo my strong willed sister and we work with Leroy Ndlovu a critical literature man. We are crazy and we concentrate on the story and how best to visualize it. And oh we always break the rules in order to make new ones.
Your last words ?
I love making films and working with people with the same mindset collaborations are king to success.

Lenni Mdawini Sibanda’s film “Qiniso” is set to be filmed soon in Bulawayo, and actors are in the rehearsal room now.