BY NICK MARSHALL TEMPE, AZ — I've been reviewing the journal I kept from our filmmaking efforts in Zambia. It's hard to believe it has been a year already. Sometimes it seems like yesterday. Sometimes, it seems like a lifetime ago.
Aug 11, 2006...
...But our best footage was when we went to the high density area, & people, hundreds of people living in squalor & in huts that looked like they were made by their own hands. The kids ran around wildly trying to get in front of cameras, we’d flash a pic & show it to them & the boys, already men’s faces, would smile and gesture like the rest curious & excited but when you asked to take their picture, they became so serious & hard faced as though they were posing for one picture and only one picture & that one would tell you all you needed to know about them forever...
Food was out everywhere, flies buzzing around everywhere, on meat laying out, some shriveled veggies, & massive amounts of stuff, just things to sell everywhere. Cyndi giving money to some that she bought stuff off & when we filmed their shop. When we left on the bus, I couldn’t say anything, couldn’t speak, cuz I knew I would breakdown, or at least cry...
It wasn’t that I pitied them or was ashamed of them at all, that was their home, that’s what they knew and they can find enjoyment in that simple life because they have to, but very hard, responsible life. I feel a pain in my stomach when I think about it. But I took pictures too. We all did, and me & Carlos discussed this a little in semi privacy when I asked to see the pictures he took. He hinted at the same thing, when we first got off the bus, he thought “What are we doing here?” I think I understood him more at that moment, I already could guess at his character, but having him say it aloud was more somehow like I knew the truth now of who he is and how he thinks instead of speculating.
Aug 14, 2007 (this year)
I tried to figure everyone out on the crew, to get to know them better, to see what drove them. I tried to write little paragraphs about each person cutting right to the core of that person, so if you didn't know them at all, anyone who would read that tiny paragraph could see them behind the surface level. Perhaps I'll put up some of those in the future.
Aug 12, 2006...
Sunday was rest day, relaxing, taking our shoes off & just sitting around and getting ready for Monday, but instead one bus driver (Max) said he was part of a N’goni tribe where they dance traditional dance & Cyndi said she’d love to see it (as well as everyone else). They were going to set up & dance in their traditional garb in the compound in the courtyard, but Cyndi thought that maybe if we could film it outside & find a location that looks like a village & shoot it for the feature than we could hit two birds with one stone. Me, Cyndi, Edgar, MK walked the neighborhood to scout out locations. Behind our compound was pretty good so we decided there. Back at the compound, came Dr. N’goma & overheard & “You need a village?” he mentioned there’s one a few kilometers from here. Great, we waited for the bus, wondering what this is, where we were going & what to expect.
A man with glazed eyes pronounced a plastic cup in my face. “Drink.” I looked; milky dirt water. I declined politely and again, he stumbled, with his sharp teethed smile, “You Zambian now. Drink.” I learned later that it was Chifuku, “Shake Shake,” a Zambian moonshine of sorts bought in a milk carton.
Aug 14, 2007 (this year)
Excavated out of my journal, I notice this is when I stopped keeping track of dates. Now, on a Tuesday, a day off from work, I sit in my crackerbox studio in the heart of Tempe and write and sweat. I have these memories swirling in my head from a year ago and all I am right now is glad. I think everyone that was involved in the project, when they look back one year ago today, I think it would be impossible not to get emotional.
Someday I've love to return to Zambia and jot down more notes and see the differences. This last paragraph is undated but was written near the end when we were in Livingstone:
— I look up to the sky, head held high like a solider to the rain, a washed out blue and I wanted to paint all this scrubbery in liquidy water colors, running off the canvas because it’s too small for this vision of calm.