Still from Lost Tongue
Still from Lost Tongue. (Image: Mvura Ya Afrika Productions)

Johannesburg-based filmmaking trio Davison Mudzingwa, Themba Vilakazi and Francis Yannicq Hweshe are fast making a name for themselves in the industry following the release of two international award-winning documentaries in a row.

Mudzingwa and Vilakazi are the co-founders and, together with Hweshe, co-owners of local production company Mvura Ya Afrika (MYA) Productions.

Lost Tongue: fighting to save an ancient language

In March this year, the team (Mudzingwa director, Vilakazi cinematographer and Hweshe producer) had their first taste of international success when Lost Tongue, their debut feature-length documentary, won the Women Film Critics Circle award at the Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York.

Lost Tongue tells the story of Khomani San woman Helena Steenkamp and her battle to save her N/uu language from extinction. Thought to be around 25 000 years old, the language is now only spoken by three elders - the youngest aged 81 - of the indigenous Khomani San people of the Kalahari.

The film has gone on to play at various festivals around the world, coming in second place in the feature documentary category at the ReelHeArt International Film and Screenplay Festival in Canada in June.

Lost Tongue "not only carries an important message for all of us but it is also a visual treat that tells a story of humanity," said Mudzingwa, who shot the film with Vilakazi in and around the towns of Upington and Andriesvale in the Northern Cape.

Two accolades in one week for What's the Frack?

South Africa's driest province was also the setting for the second feature-length doccie by the Mvura Ya Afrika team, What's The Frack?

Featuring South African anti-fracking activist Jonathan Deal, Nigerian environmental activist Barry Wugunaale and KhoiSan leader Chief Janjitie, What's the Frack? documents Deal's struggle to prevent shale gas mining, which uses hydraulic fracturing, from taking place in South Africa.



The film had its world premiere at the Cayman Islands International Film Festival in July, followed by screenings at the Swedish International Film Festival, Ekotopfilm Environmental Film Festival in the Czech Republic, and Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival in Malaysia.

And in the US in October, What's the Frack? scooped two accolades in the space of a week, winning an Award of Excellence at the Headline International Film Festival and an Honourable Mention at the Yosemite International Film Festival.

The film was given Spanish subtitles to enable it to play at the recently completed International Environmental Film Festival (FICMA) in Barcelona and the upcoming Human Rights Film Festival in the same city.

"We feel honoured with the way this picture is being received around the world," Hweshe said in a statement, adding: "Our goal is equally to showcase the film in South Africa and around Africa, where the issue of fracking remains in the shadows of public consciousness."

Source: staff reporter

Contact the Gauteng Film Commission