A local film has won a coveted award at the 19th annual Tribeca Film Festival. The event, which showcases a diverse selection of independent films each year, managed to push the boundaries of storytelling and connecting with audiences despite Coronavirus, by presenting the awards online this year.
The film titled My Father the Mover, by South African writer/director/producer Julia Jansch, was announced as the best documentary short film. The jury commented that it is “a ‘movement’ film which frees people from the pain had the biggest impression on us and lasted through the tragedies we’re going through now”. said the jury.
The award-winning short film tells the story of Stoan (a.k.a. Stoan ‘Move’ Galela), a dancer who uses African electronic Gqom beats to motivate children in the township of Khayelitsha, South Africa to jive through their hardship and find their superpowers.
According to Jansch, the award-winning short film came about by chance when She met her co-producer Mandilakhe Yengo.
“I met Stoan through my co-producer, Mandilakhe Yengo. It was a random encounter as he was working behind the scenes as a choreographer on a series. We started chatting and I asked him how long he has been a dancer for. He answered by saying, ‘I’m not a dancer, I’m a mover’. I was immediately intrigued,” saidJansch.
Stoan (Mthuthuzeli Stoan Galela) is a self-taught dancer from Gugulethu outside Cape Town. He started dancing at an early age and his passion is his free dance group, the United Township Dancers. Stoan’s dream is to make dance his mainstream gig.
“To make money I sell paraffin, I choreograph bride and groom dances and other gigs that come my way and I sell ‘#move – away from gangsterism’ T-shirts to raise awareness about fighting crime and gangsterism in the community.” Said Stoan.
On a personal level, the director said that she was moved by Stoan’s spirit.
“When we first spoke, Stoan told me ‘Everyone can have freedom. It just depends on whether you want to be free or not’. Stoan inspires us to find a way to transcend.” said Jansch.
Jansch wanted to make the film in a way that felt as real and immersive as being with Stoan in the flesh.
“This was the only way to tell his story. Of course, no-one could play a better Stoan than Stoan himself. The same goes for Alatha, his daughter, and the dancers. I wanted to bring as much integrity to the project as possible while shining a light and raising awareness for Stoan and the incredibly talented kids heteaches,” said Jansch.
Stoan has indicated that the opportunity of wining the award was as unexpected and profound.
“To be quite honest I didn’t think that it would go this far. I actually took it for granted, maybe it’s because things like this, they seem so impossible on this other side of life, still my passion keeps me going.” Said Stoan.
Jansch added and said that stories are often psychological, offbeat, and brought to life through unusual micro-universes and lyrical imagery.
“I think stories and films have a huge responsibility – they can uplift, challenge perceptions, change priorities, and garner awareness. They can do this because they can move audiences. If ever there was a time that revealed the importance of movement, it is now. Movement can heal, transcend, transform. We will get through these times and we will move again.” said Jansch.
Her latest offering, My Father the Mover, is a heart-warming tale about not allowing your current circumstances to dictate your future.