10th Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival
International Competition
Siyabonga Mbel
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Moya is the journey of a girl whose spirit is divided before the mystery of Death, unable to find her own religious identity. It is a journey of the soul, both supernatural and surreal, through a variety of urban and natural settings where ghostly figures roam, incarnating the doubts and fears of the main character. A search unfolds within a limbo portrayed with evocative images. A search that is first of all individual but that inevitably raises questions on a larger scale, reflecting on religious syncretism and on the possibility that two seemingly incompatible faiths might coexist.

Hi Siyabonga thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

It’s a pleasure, I’m actually doing quite great, I believe with every event comes a lesson to be learnt from it.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Yes, since my time in lockdown, I’ve had to reflect on a lot of things in my life and develop a new pool of unused energy, so I’ve channeled that energy into creating through different art forms.

Congratulations on having Moya selected for this year's Ca' Foscari Short Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of films?

I’m honoured to have been selected and be among a lineup of exceptional films. It means a lot to me, primarily because of how Moya has transcended cultures and nationalities.

Moya is in the International Competition, does this add any additional pressure on you?

Haha, to be honest not really, what it actually does for me is motivate me to strive for further innovation in cinema and better storytelling.

"Past filmmakers innovated and thus pushed the medium forward, it’s our duty to do the same."

Can you tell me a little bit about Moya, how did this film come about?

Funny enough the film came about through various conversations I’ve been having with friends and family about how religion impacts culture and vice versa, the name and premise of the film struck me while I was sitting in church. I delve deeper into the aspects of spirituality and what it actually means across different African cultures and how that relates to spirituality in Christianity. The underlying theme within the film is these two forms of spirituality clashing and causing a rift within the protagonist, causing her to go on a spiritual journey to find her spirit which in turns represents her identity.

What inspired the screenplay?

What inspired the screenplay was an experimental short film I did on a famous African Artist and how his painting delved on the subject of the ‘black body’. I loved the form it took in the edit and thus I wanted to incorporate it into the film as its structure. So the screenplay was actually written in a sort of experimental format so that the inherent ideas could be interpreted accurately.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

There will always be something I’d want to do differently because each day we all evolve as artists, so the art of yesterday won’t necessarily satisfy the artist of today. The strive for perfection I guess. Hahaha.

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I guess my passion for filmmaking came from my love and gift for creating through different artistic mediums including music. I found it magical how all these elements can come together to create a product that can have so many nuances, metaphors, and elements that come together to create an enriching experience for the audience. It’s just magical.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

The best advice I’ve been given was that: LET THE WORK SPEAK FOR ITSELF. You won’t be present to explain your premise and intention to audiences so you have one chance to get the film right.

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Yes, I’m an avid supporter of innovating cinema and pushing boundaries, that’s how we even got to this era of filmmaking that we’re in in the first place. Past filmmakers innovated and thus pushed the medium forward, it’s our duty to do the same.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

Advice I can give is that: things take time, as filmmakers we need to learn to be patient and in due time, everything will fall into place.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Moya?

What I want people to take away from Moya is that, yes we are humans with physical elements that make up our bodies, but we’re inherently spirits too, it’s important for us to be conscious of that, cause it’s essentially our identity.

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