Mmabatho Montsho on Ramaphosa’s congrats: ‘Celebrate us by addressing our grievances’

Image credit: Twitter/Mmabatho Montsho

Award-winning filmmaker Mmabatho Montsho has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to celebrate artists’ achievements by addressing their grievances.

Montsho was reacting to Ramaphosa’s tweet on Tuesday congratulating her after her film, The Award Ceremony, won the Best Short Film at the Worldwide Women’s Film Festival held in Arizona, US, recently.

In his tweet, Ramaphosa said, “South African creatives are relentlessly making their mark on the world stage and they continue to make us proud. @MmabathoMontsho’s short film The Award Ceremony came back with a Best Short Film award at the 2020 Worldwide Women’s Film Festival. We celebrate this achievement.”

‘Nothing about creative arts in SONA’

However, Montsho used the opportunity to highlight some of the challenges creative artists feel the President has not addressed.

In an open letter, she said Ramaphosa had not mentioned anything about creative arts in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week.

She added, “Black filmmakers, black women filmmakers in particular, should not have to negotiate their souls in order to have access to tell our stories and still make ends meet.

“You have not prioritised the SABC which has been in limbo for years. Black practitioners have sat in their homes, in the dark, with no food on the table, while the country watches content they created without getting paid.”

‘Financial apartheid’

Montsho claimed pay TV channel M-Net is exploiting the intellectual property, “our ideas,” of creative artists.

She added, “We are also aware of the disparity in production budgets between channels with black content (e.g. Mzansi) and white content (e.g. Kyknet). This financial apartheid must be unveiled and dealt with.”

The talented filmmaker said the Ministers of Arts and Culture as well as Communications only “pretend to listen” to the creatives’ concerns in the run-up to elections.

She cited other grievances such as intimidation and exclusion based on gender. “In short, we reach these milestones you celebrate against incredible odds. Please celebrate us by attending to our grievances,” she concluded.

The Award Ceremony and Joko Ya Hao, also a Mmabatho Montsho film, have been screening at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles, US, in February.

Joko Ya Hao has also won a nomination for a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA). According to Montsho, the film is a “love letter” to the late African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

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