The competition was open to all students across Africa who were challenged to create a short fictional film or animation with a maximum length of 5 minutes with a smartphone. CHR’s website says the competition is to “encourage students from Africa to express themselves and to engage with issues of relevance to Africa using available cellphone technology, and [to] enhance the Moot Court experience”. Adebayo Okeowo, Advocacy Coordinator at CHR said the entries were judged on “screenplay, creativity, execution and post production”.
Nsanzya directed a film called Ignorance isn’t Bliss where Sahana Srirangam, an honours Psychology student, plays the lead. The supporting cast are Stephanie Ihesie, a third year Drama student, Nicela Kriel and Oriana Somoza-Medina who are both first year Drama students. With an intentional casting of only females, Nsanzya hoped to highlight that females too can be the perpetrators of abuse. She added that the women being racially diverse was purely incidental. However, she is “highly appreciative” of the racially diversity, as abuse spans across colour lines.
The film emphasises the struggles many abuse victims face in trying to break free from violence. In it, the main character Rose played by Sahana Srirangam, struggles through a therapy session as she tries to “face her demons”, Nsanzya said. Rose is tormented by emotions and thoughts of abuse, ignorance and denial.
In the film, those three “demons” are personified to the extent of even having nicknames: Abuse as Abigail, Denial as DD and Ignorance as Bliss. Ihesie plays Abuse, Kriel plays Denial and Somoza-Medina plays Ignorance. The familiar torturers consume and control Rose – a metaphor Nsanzya said she used to show just how real and possessive our emotions and thoughts associated with violence can be.
Describing her short film as “untypical”, Nsanzya does not have a character to play the therapist, but uses subtitles to show its presence. Describing the therapist as “ominous”, Nsanzya said it was a way for that character to engage with the reader. “We should all be asking ourselves the same questions, not just the girl seated in front of the therapist,” Nsanzya said.
Furthermore, Nsanzya said she hopes her film will urge the abused to be “proactive” in seeking healing. “You have to love yourself first,” she stressed. Nsanzya added that many women get caught up in the love of material things, which hinders them from leaving abusive relationships.
While the competition initially sought for a winning entry from UP and of a student from any other university in Africa, Okeowo said the judging panel did not consider the other entries to be “strong enough”. “Producing stunning films with a smartphone is yet to be a common phenomenon through this annual competition,” he added.