As the curtain closed on South Sudan’s second annual film festival in Juba, various recipients of awards echoed messages of hope and resilience, despite economic despair caused by the ongoing conflict.
Emmanuel Tom, a student from Nile Secondary School awarded the fourth best student award for the short film category, told Xinhua late Saturday that he hopes this award will inspire unity among South Sudanese.
“Let us take advantage of this as a way of uniting our country. We have to bring our people together,” he said.
He added the cash prize of 70 U.S. dollars will help him pay off debts incurred during the shooting of the film, and will reinvest the balance into shooting of the next film.
“Our aim of participating in this film festival is not only to win, but to pass a message to our people that we students have the ability like other people,” he said.
Tom also said they faced challenges due to financial difficulty, amid delays in clearance for their film by government.
Kindu Sarah, who won in the best comedy film category with “Longoyo”, explained that their success was built from teamwork and hopes to reinvest the cash prize of 150 dollars into the next film.
“We want to dedicate this win to our group. We will reinvest this money we have earned in the next film,” she said.
Meanwhile, Selena Modong won the award for best supporting actress and said this award will inspire the young girls who have been victims of early child marriages to continue schooling.
“Most of the girls in South Sudan have had to drop out of school due to early child marriages and conflict, but this award will inspire them to learn and work hard to be successful,” she said.
Simon Bingo, the founder and director of the Juba film festival, said this year’s event was a success, adding this would eventually open up more opportunities for new upcoming talent and inspire film makers to be creative and competitive.
“This is our second edition for the Juba film festival. Last year we had the first edition where we received 40 films and this year we have received 75 films and this is a very great improvement and I think next year we shall be able to have more than 100 films,” he said.
He disclosed that the ongoing conflict in the country limited most film makers from exploring a range of subjects due to insecurity and government restrictions.
“Always in the war zone country things are not easy to hold cameras, but with all these challenges we were able to ensure that film makers have access to all what they wanted here in Juba,” Bingo added.
He also revealed that some of the films that have not been broadcast might have been containing material that cannot be broadcast in public.
“We were advised by the media authority, we still have some messages that we cannot share publicly,” Bingo said.
President Salva Kiir’s legal advisor Lawrence Korbandy hailed the winners and promised government support to the nascent film industry, adding that they are willing to invest in the arts and culture, but remain financially constrained.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, following decades of civil war, but again plunged into conflict in December 2013, which has killed tens of thousands, hence causing millions to seek refuge in neighboring countries like Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Enditem