Since we have Sis Tamara on the cover, I thought it would be a good idea to watch Mjita Wam and give a review. Exit featured the short film in the May issue, so this would also make as a good follow up to that feature.
Before one can live as their authentic self, there is a period of self-discovery and exploration we all need to go through. Usually, the time to explore is during childhood, where we have questions about our sexuality and gender. But if we are honest, for a number of us in the queer community, we often do not have the privilege exploring our curiosities until much later in life. The opportunity often presents itself when we leave home to go study or work. I have fond memories of my younger self making mistakes and engaging in relationships that my older self would cringe at, but I needed to live those experiences to arrive at where I am now as a queer woman in this world.
In watching Mjita Wam, this is the initial feeling I got from the short film, the sense that Ziki (played by Ukho ‘Sis Tamara’ Samela) is at the stage in his young adulthood where he is unravelling parts of himself he had suppressed. You pick up from the dialogue that he is experiencing conflict within himself, and the teachings from his family and the community he grew up in.
I laughed when he shared with Junior (played by Gustaph Nkgweng), sitting on the park bench, about the time he was watching the infamous Jason and Senzo scene on Generations. I laughed because I could relate; the curiosity mixed with shame, because no doubt you were watching Generations surrounded by your whole family. But I could also relate to the slurs and derogatory comments from the adults. This would have contributed to learned self-hate, and the beauty of growing up is that we get to challenge some of the teachings that have formed us and start to shed the weight of the shame.
The short film starts with Ziki taking a smoke in the park, where he catches a glimpse of a cute guy (Junior) sitting alone on a bench, having a solitary smoke. Ziki sees an opportunity to make his way over by pretending to need a lighter (classic) at which point they introduce themselves. A conversation then ensues.
The camera remains at quite a close range to the two characters, creating an intimacy between Junior and Ziki. Throughout the film the two characters are shown within the same frame, again focusing on the connection between them, and enhancing the chemistry Sis Tamara and Gustaph already shared. The dialogue was also well constructed. I held onto every word shared, from simple banter to the sharing of more intimate details (and trust me, the conversations were deep). The story hinges on the two actors selling to the audience that Ziki and Junior have a real connection, kindred spirits if you will, and the casting and directing paid off.
Like any good movie, there is a twist in the end. I will not give anything away, you will need to watch for yourselves to see where this connection takes Junior and Ziki. The film is available for streaming on Anathi Siyungu (writer and creator of Mjita Wam) Film’s web page: https://anathisiyungufilms.co.za/
Writer, creator and cinematographer: Anathi Siyungu
Music: X Mile
Producer: Louie-Vincent Office
Actors: Ukho ‘Sis Tamara’ Samela, Gustaph Nkgweng
Promotional posters by AOT Fotos