(The Juba Film Festival is made possible with a sub-grant from the USAID I-STREAM project implemented by Internews.)
The BBC interviewed Simon Bingo, director of the Film Festival, as part of their Africa Today program:
Transcript of the radio program:
[sounds of people] Man’s voice: The best long fiction film was to Waja Ta Jana [cheering].
BBC Narrator: Cheers at the South Sudan Film Festival in Juba over the weekend when the winning film was announced. Waja Ta Jana, which translates as “the pain of the child” was produced by Maridi Information Youth Network. Well, let’s find out a little more about the event itself. Journalist Nicola Mandel spoke with Simon Bingo. He’s the director of the Juba Film Festival.
Simon Bingo: People know us in South Sudan as warmongers like killing ourselves. We want to show them another part of South Sudan. South Sudan is not only what you see – South Sudan has talent, South Sudan has stories, positive stories. We know what is going on but as filmmakers, regardless of what is happening, we need to be one people, we need to come together as South Sudanese. To sit together. Let’s dialog, let’s talk and make South Sudan a better country for all of us, regardless of who you are and where you are from.
Interviewer: What are some of the feedbacks you have received from the people?
Bingo: We have received a lot of feedback from people because this is our second year and people actually like for example what happened in the youth’s center – it’s one of the venues where are screening films – people actually there wanted the film screening to continue every day. We say it is not possible. This shows that the people – they love it because they do not have somewhere where they can sit and watch their own stories because they're tired of watching other foreign stories.
But now these are stories that have been acted in their own languages, in the language they understand and see that the person who has been acting, they can meet him on the street. So they feel so much more connected.
Interviewer: How many films so far competed?
Bingo: Last year we received forty films but this year, we have received seventy-five films so it means that the production …or the youth are actually very busy in taking on the issue of filming. Although is not easy to hold a camera, go to the street, film but filmmakers as ourselves have taken this seriously regardless of the challenges that we face in our country; regardless of what is happening on. We need to hold cameras and still make our own the stories.
So we are actually proud to be the South Sudanese.
Interviewer: Tell me the name of the best film.
Bingo: And the one for the best film – actually it is Waja Ta Jana that is one of the best stories so far. This is actually the winning film – it is the story about a school girl who dropped out of work in school during the common crisis like the ongoing crisis in South Sudan now. The girl drops out of school but the parents recollected themselves and sent the girl back to school and the girl was able to prosper. The girl’s education is very important. Most of the girls dropped of school nowadays, either because of ongoing conflicts or because of any reason.
So we want to tell this message – it was a very very powerful message – that we need to support girls because these people are our women of South Sudan and they are our leaders tomorrow.
Interviewer: A passionate advocate for positive storytelling in South Sudan. That’s Simon Bingo, director of the Juba Film Festival.