In a first for Nelson Mandela Bay, a series of films and documentaries will be screened free of charge over the next few weeks.
One of the highlights is a documentary on the SS Mendi by the local playwright and actor Zwai Mgijima.
It’s all about bringing cinema to the people. A mobile cinema that can be set up anywhere which is the brainchild of local producer Luzuko Dilima.
The story of the SS Mendi opens the bill.
Dilima says: “I wanted to launch the festival with some high class content that is available locally. So, I knew about the troop ship tragedy, the Mendi. I chose local films with local talent to maintain a standard which is rare in Port Elizabeth and that film qualifies and it’s been watched internationally as well.”
The documentary has been 11 years in the making after being a theatre production first.
The Mendi was struck by the mail ship, the Darro in foggy waters just 20 km off the Isle of Wight. Initially, the larger ship did not stop, and within half an hour the Mendi sank.
The tragedy claimed 646 lives. Some men were killed outright in the collision, others were trapped below deck.
Amongst the troops on the SS Mendi were 823 black South Africans, many from Pondoland in the Eastern Cape.
They were part of the SA national labour contingent.
Mgijima says: “The film about the Mendi goes back to 2005 when the idea came about. In 2011, I met Marion Edwards from Sabido Productions we spoke I told her my idea and things just started to come together.”
Filming took place over three years in various locations including the Eastern Cape, Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, France, Belgium and England.
Source – sabc