Deaf filmmaker Nenio Mbazima screened his feature film Hello Sweet Baby: It Was Lust Not Love, to a full house of deaf students and invited guests at Sizwile School of the Deaf in

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Nenio Mbazima
Soweto last year as part of the Gauteng Film Commission's (GFC) outreach programme and to mark International Day of the Disabled.

The screening of the 60 minute film, to a delighted audience on 3 December 2009, formed part of the GFC's 'Film as a Career' project, which rolled out in under-resourced communities with the support of the City of Johannesburg's Library and Information Services and the Sedibeng District Municipality.

In addition to exposing communities to the possibilities of film as a career, and bringing film screenings to under-resourced communities, the project also provided a platform for local filmmakers to exhibit their craft to, and interact with, local audiences.

Hello Sweet Baby: It Was Lust Not Love, produced by Nenio Motion Pictures, is based on a deaf school girl who gets impregnated and is deserted by her lover. The film is subtitled in English, making it ideal for viewing by both the deaf and non deaf viewers.

At the event, Mbazima also conducted a mini-workshop on 'Film as a Career', and spoke about his film and the challenges experienced in making it.

Commenting on the special event, Desmond Mthembu, project manager in the GFC's Industry Support and Development unit, said: "It shows it is possible for a deaf filmmaker to make a film. And there are possibilities for the disabled to get into and become part of the film industry."

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Hello Sweet Baby screens at Sizwile School of the Deaf, Soweto
During question and answer sessions, most of the deaf children asked numerous questions, making the screenings interesting and worthwhile. "I was overwhelmed by the response from the kids, I didn't have enough time to deal with all of them", said Mbazima.

It was evident that the deaf have the zeal but lack the support to get their voices and creativity exposed, especially through the medium of film.

Commenting on why he made the film, Mbazima said: "I realised that most of the programs being made on HIV/Aids are not suitable for the deaf. So I decided to do a film for the deaf world."

Hello Sweet Baby's making had its challenges. "It was hard to get deaf actors. In fact there were none at all, so I had to train them. In addition, no one was willing to fund me until I got backing from Open Society Initiative Southern Africa (OSISA)."

It was shot mostly by a deaf crew as Mbazima's aim was to provide employment to deaf people.

Mbazima's film background began with Deaf Television (DTV) in early 2000. He trained on how to write, direct, produce and budget for a film production. After that he went to Wits University for further training in television theory.

Hello Sweet Baby, his fifth film, was started in 2003 and completed in 2004. It has been shown on the local Deaf Television and is internationally distributed by Film for Development Trust. In 2004, it was featured at the Deaf Film Festival in Washington. That same year it was screened in Nigeria at the Wesley School for the Hearing Impaired by Communication for Change (CFC) Magazine.

Mbazima's other sign language and deaf driven films include Emerging Future, Hope for the Future, My Best Sport the Condom and Key for the Future. For more information on these and Mbazima, visit www.nenio.co.za.