JEANETTE ROE, LUSAKA—More than a decade ago, I lived and traveled in South America for four years following college. Being in Zambia has brought back the feeling of hyper-consciousness I used to experience frequently in Paraguay. I called it the “it” moment having read Kerouak at the time of my Peace Corps service. The quality of light, the perpetual smell of smoke, sweat and dust, local music blasting from vehicles and houses, the river of buses, cars and humans overflowing the streets, and the wonderful food and hospitality. I’ve experienced several of these moments in Zambia.
After resting up, meeting the actors, and getting things set for the Monday shoot, Cyndi encouraged Kai, Gingher and me to take a quick trip to Livingston and Victoria Falls. We will be leaving the crew to return to the U.S. at the end of this week to start our fall semester.
The tourist sites were incredible, the falls, the animals, but my favorite moments tend to be the personal interactions and incidents that occur and are difficult to express.
On the way to Livingston I had a strong sense of being in Africa when on the last leg of our journey in the dead of the night, listening to Jimmy Reeves, the tank on empty, the road narrowing and enclosed on either side by a wall of grass, our car dropped into a couple hellacious potholes. As the potholes got worse and Alan our driver did not seem to want to slow down, I asked him if we had a spare. In his wonderful African English he said softly “Nooooo … we travel by the grace of God.” We all burst out laughing. I have to admit I had a real moment of fear of getting stranded.
On our way back from the park we stopped for lunch. I thought we had mistakenly entered someone’s home there was only one table and a living room with couches and a napping cat. We were led through the house out the back door and across a patio to the kitchen, a small outbuilding, a chunk of fish was frying in a pan on the ground. A young woman poked here head out the door she did not look very happy to see us. We ordered one of everything. The food was authentic and delicious. We ate with our fingers and cleaned our plates. Lydia, our chef smiled hugely when we expressed how much we enjoyed the food.
When stopping to get pictures with a life-sized, half finished, concrete sculpture of an elephant, we were scolded by a matronly woman in traditional dress. She said we were lucky they had just locked up the dogs who would have attacked us. To Alan she said “…and you are not a proper African, you should know the proper way!”. We apologized profusely, we had not realized it was private property. We enjoyed teasing Alan about not being a proper African the next couple kilometers.
Arriving back at the lodge the students were wound up and excited about their weekend adventures. They had gone to a high density area to film and interview people for the documentary and had an incredible experience and lots of stories to share. They also filmed the Ngoni warriors dancing at sunset in a traditional African village. We saw the footage, it was awesome! As a teacher it is wonderful seeing the students pull together as a team and really doing the job. They look like professionals already, I can’t wait to see how seasoned they become in the next two weeks. Along the way I am sure they will experience many “it” moments of their own to remember for a lifetime.
BY THE AFRICAN VOICE DOCUMENTARY FILM CREW, MESA, AZ, USA - The last week, we worked on a short video to give people a sense of who we are and why we're doing what we're doing. Three of the editors put together versions of varying length.
SHAWN DOWNS put together the Who We Are in Two Minutes movie. Shawn recently graduated from Arcadia High School and will be going to the LA Film School upon his return from Zambia. Shawn is an excellent cinematographer, gaffer and all-round crew member. Shawn had a short film in the PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL 2006. I'd count on seeing great things from him in the future.
LINDSEY BLACK crafted the Who We Are in Five Minutes. Lindsey graduated from Mesa Community College. She has made numerous short films and is looking to build a career in the independent film industry. Lindsey enjoys acting, editing and producing. Already a Sundance veteran, Lindsey is looking forward the 2007 festival. She learned a great deal about networking at the last festival from actor, Adam Scarimbolo.
MICHAEL MONTESA completed the Who We Are in 17 Minutes. Another Sundance veteran with a commitment to work in the independent film world, Mike is a respiratory therapist by vocation and photographer/cinematographer by avocation. Mike has won several awards at the annual Mesa Community College Art Show. In addition to being a great on-set photographer, Mike loves designing movie poster and DVD case covers. His designs are terrific.