We reached out to our festival filmmakers to ask them five questions about the experience of making their films.
What inspired this story?
I visited a Shembe gathering years ago. I was appalled by the number of leopard skins being worn by dancers. At the same time, I was both intrigued and moved by the beautiful sense of meaning within the ritual. I think the film was inspired by tension between those two contrasting experiences of the same event.
Describe some of the challenges faced while making this film.
Our biggest challenge was coming up with a solution that worked for both the conservation bodies and the Shembe Church. Building an open line of communication between ourselves and the Church was a difficult process.
How do you approach storytelling?
We realize people aren’t going to watch something just because it's an important or critical issue. They need to be entertained. And to do that we needed to have character development and narrative arcs, but within the restraints of a real life story, the pace and direction of which we couldn’t dictate. We learnt that sometimes you need to push in a certain direction as a story teller and other times you simply have to wait for the story to evolve of its own accord.
What impact do you hope this film will have?
Our goal has been to protect leopards, primarily from people not knowing or understanding the threats they face, and to use entertainment as a way of doing that.
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