Bridging the Cultural Divide
BY CYNDI GREENING, PRODUCER, PHOENIX, USA - As a professor in a Fine Art program, we are deeply committed to guiding students in developing an original point of view and creating unique work. We want the students to share their individual truth with the viewer. The more profound and personal that truth, the more accessible it is to the viewer ... and the more powerfully it touches him/her. It's a delicate task.
It was with this belief system that I approached the Zambia projects. One of my primary goals in producing the first Zambian feature film was to bring the Zambian voice and stories of the Zambian culture to the world. Using the play of Samuel Kasankha, the direction and screenwriting ability of Jabbes Mvula and the music of Danny ensures that the film BAD TIMING has the potential of being an amazing film for Zambia.
The recent death of Jabbes' son, Kondwani, reminded me that there are often surprises that show up in the making of original work. I am reminded that there will undoubtedly be many more surprises in the making of this film. Why? Because this is a Zambian tale, acted by Zambians, written and directed by a Zambian. It is outside of my experience so many of the things that happen do not match my U.S. frame of reference.
It was surprising for me to hear that Jabbes could not openly claim his son until he had taken care of things properly with the elders. In most of the U.S., this wouldn't have been that big of a deal. It would have been an "oops" ... like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Oops. Oh well. Things happen. It was an accident. In the U.S., sometimes people get married. Sometimes they don't. It's just different here.
I'm anticipating that this sort of thing is going to happen a lot during the filming process. I've already had a few of those experiences. Early in the production process, I called and emailed a few people in Zambia and discovered that my typical way of communicating was often misunderstood or too abrupt. I had to change my communication style.
This should be very good for the documentary, VOICE OF AN AFRICAN NATION, however. Navigating this gaping cultural divide between Arizona and Zambia will make for good drama. I don't think we have any idea how many of these moments are going to occur.
As an Art Professor, my commitment is to support Jabbes in helping the world to see the true Zambia and understand his culture. It promises to be enlightening for all of us.