South Africa competing in Portland Film Festival

South African Tebogo Malope is competing at the Portland Film Festival with his movie For Love and Broken Bones. The movie was chosen amongst 3500 other candidates and competes now in the category Narrative. Tebogo explains to Kalangu how he met Spike Lee jogging and why he does not see his nomination at the festival as a competition.

Ok, first of all. How does one bump into Spike Lee?

Spike was shooting a documentary at my high school in Johannesburg and I walked onto the set and met him. The amazing thing is that a few hours later I met him again when I was jogging in my hometown Soweto.

Tebogo, For Love and Broken Bones is about a lonely, cold and silent debt collector who falls in love with the fierce and passionate wedding planner. She happens also to be his latest mission. He is tormented by his own fear of love. Meanwhile his boss is still waiting for the assignment to be accomplished.

It is obvious that this plot really caught the Portland Film Festival. How does it feel to be chosen among 3500 submissions and to compete in Narratives?

The feeling is great, more so that my film is going to have a global audience. Words are limiting to describe how I'm feeling right now.

You have years of experience in the movie business but For Love and Broken Bones is your first feature film. How was it making the film?

Hard! Very hard! We shot it in two weeks and completed it in less than 2 months, so yeah, extremely hard!

How does it feel competing in Narrative in the Festival?

I can't wait to engage with filmmakers from around the world. I'm not too sure how to respond to the term "compete" For me it's always been about sharing. If people came to my house for dinner and myself and a few friends served different dishes, it wouldn't feel like we are competing, it would feel like a family serving meals, if people happen to like my meal better than others then we celebrate together because the point is to feed the masses.

How do you build up a story? Can you explain the process, how your mind works

I build stories constantly; my mind never stops thinking stories. It could be an image, a person I meet, a phrase in a song, a dream, a news headline, a scent. A moment could come anywhere and at anytime, my stories usually come from a small moment which I imagine filming and how that moment would translate cinematically. That moment could be placed anywhere in the narrative, it almost works like the big bang theory, the moment bangs and births the rest of the narrative. The moment needs to be compelling and then I go for the ride.

So you have been telling stories since your childhood. What were your earliest stories about?

My early story telling was primarily with community theatre, we used to tell a lot of African folk stories, translating them with song and dance and putting them on stage. A lot of the contemporary narratives of the time had to do with themes of the struggle, granted we were a little too young to comprehend the complexities of our politics but the feeling was there, oppression was a reality even to us who were early teens at the time. So those were the majority of the narratives we told.

You were fixing television sets before. Like an electrician? How did you start with it?

A really small part of it was it technical, I always wondered what was inside that tube, so I'd often strip it down, dismantle each component and then put it back together. The mechanical sense of fixing the TV’s was really minor, what I did a lot was tuning channels for the community; I guess majority of the adults had no clue how to do it and somehow I figured it out. Each time someone bought a television set i would be hired to tune it and get paid for it, not bad for a 6 year old kid. Absolutely fascinating.

Portland Film Festival starts tomorrow 1 September.

Text by...

Sumbu Temo

27 years old journalist student and dreamer from Stockholm