By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – The Gem Institute has secured funding to the tune of over M1million to produce a locally made Basotho film.

The movie which is done in collaboration with Botswana’s Kanye Bulletin and Sound Connect Fund, who are one of the sponsors, is named “Li eme ka Lekoa” and will be shot over a period of eight months, under the theme “wish for my daughter”.

The theme places focus on women and children, but is expected to expand to males throughout the cause of the film.

Working within the framework of Building Ecosystem of Creative Cultural Industry In Film And Fashion In Southern Africa, (Lesotho and Botswana) and in a bid to tell stories of Basotho produced by Basotho, Gem Institute – which is a community based social enterprise non – governmental organization (NGO) advocating for active civic engagement, innovation through creativity, and technological adaptation, plans to market this production on the International stage.

Speaking at a press briefing held on Monday, Gem Institute founder and Executive Director, Ms. Mpho Letima said this film will market Lesotho on the international stage as it will showcase local talent and production. She said it had been a long time since they were longing to have a production of their own as Basotho, which is produced by Basotho in their very own country.

Ms. Letima, said it was evident that for a very long time Sesotho stories were surprisingly being told by foreigners, as our stories have been mostly narrated through the writings of Europeans in foreign texts which could lead and expose them to misinterpretation. She said it is widely known that Basotho have a profound heritage of storytelling which was mostly done through oral storytelling (through lit’somo).

Using an example of a new movie which is being shown and circulated around South African cinemas, she emphasized the fact that foreigners were now likely to take our own stories and sell them back to us.

“Through our collaboration with Kanye Bulletin, which is a Media house in Botswana, we will have a compilation of films between the two countries. This is because this project is a Southern African regional based project, which at this moment aims to benefit both countries.

“We are looking to have at least 10 films at most and would like to appeal to all local film makers that if you have any of your own films you are most welcome to submit them as well. Our intention is to circulate the films especially in the Southern African region so that they can gain recognition and as a result see the producers earning a profit,” she said.

“We would also like to learn how marketing and communications of issues relating to Heritage and cultural products is regulated and administered in Lesotho, so far in Lesotho we have learnt that there’s a system in place which facilitates the marketing and selling of such products here in Lesotho.

“Ladies and gentlemen it has been for a very longtime that our products in the form of films and stories have been adopted by foreigners telling them on our behalf. Now is the time to turn things around and tell our own stories in our own ways. This film which we will be producing will be exposed to the international market in most of the film festivals so that our work gains the much deserved exposure and recognition.

The story line is centered on a young girl by the name of ‘Masentle who was given good education by her family, and due to her brother being of a much younger age, she is taught all the things that would most likely be taught a male heir. She is the daughter of a chief, and during the times of the setting the old “Laws of Chief Lerotholi” which favour male heirs are still upheld in Basotho communities.

When she returns from University she’s unfortunately met by a tiff war of succession after the passing of her father, and she is met with much resistance from her uncles, who appear to have ulterior motives.

The cast of the film includes among others Mr. Selingane Tyali, Ms. Relebihile Sepheka and Ms. Majoro who plays the character of ‘Makoena.  The film will be produced by Mr. Leonard Mopeli and Relebohile Sepheka is also the script writer.

Ms. Boreng Hlalele, who is the Marketing and Communications officer for the Building Ecosystems of Creative Cultural Industry in Film and Fashion in Southern Africa lauded both the creatives and Gem Institute for the film and said it would definitely boost the creative and cultural sector.