African Urban Dreams
Last October I wrote about my experience filming in Maputo. The film is now finished and ready to be distributed. It will be premiered in Maputo in September at the Dockanema festival, in presence of the characters who took part in the film. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be there. I would have loved to watch them watching themselves, and see if the meaning I tried to create out of their different stories means the same to them and to the local audience.
African Urban Dreams is a 50-minute documentary. Mozambique is a country which has lived through much political and historical turmoil. It is still one of the world's poorest and most underdeveloped countries. Mozambican families invest enormous effort and all their savings into the building of a home. The film explores how their initiative and the rapid expansion of Maputo both solve but also threaten people’s dreams of owning a permanent home.
Images of slums in the media tend to focus on the problems which fester in such concentration of poverty. This film is unique in exploring how people in poor parts of the world build their dreams of a home and organize their neighbourhoods to make up for lack of basic infrastructures such as water, electricity, etc normally provided by the state.
During filming and even more during editing, the editor and I worked hard to show the reality of living conditions, yet making sure that our characters retained their dignity. Spending time with our families, we start to see beyond what we call a slum.
This film is important because it wants to challenge the notion that third world slums cities can only be dealt by bulldozing those areas. This argument is an excuse for governments to throw or buy out people off their land for peanuts, in order to accommodate land speculation.
In UK television we have so many TV slots about grand design etc. – I hope that there will be an audience interested in finding out how African home spaces are created and organized, and what values and notions they're ascribed to?
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