Hout Bay doccie to screen at UK film festival

Wonga Lucas films Mandilakhe Chuku at a tavern in Imizamo Yethu for the documentary, Mandilakhe – Let Me Build. Pictures: Wonga Lucas.

A documentary by two Hout Bay film-makers has been selected for screening at a UK film festival this month.

Mandilakhe – Let Me Build, by Wonga Lucas, 28, and Adriaan Madikisa, 32, explores the wage gap in Hout Bay through the eyes of Imizamo Yethu resident Mandilakhe Chuku. It will be shown at the Activists Without Borders Film Festival in Manchester on Saturday December 16.

Lucas, one of six children raised by a single mother was born in Gqeberha but grew up in Imizamo Yethu. He studied at the Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking.

Describing Madikisa as a friend and mentor, he says they were both raised in similar environments “but both found our doorway through the lens, telling stories for change”.

“Adriaan and I first met around 2019 during a string of riots and unrest that was affecting our areas at the time. We were both community activists and artists. We formed an instant bond and decided that we wanted to make a difference in the greater Hout Bay area. We then formed a group called the Pursuit of Humanity with a friend of ours.”

Mandilakhe – Let Me Build has been a year-long project for the pair, who filmed it in Imizamo Yethu during a four-day shoot in September.

“The community we worked within was Imizamo Yethu, where I grew up and still reside. The reason for choosing this location was due to the human-rights issue that plague the community,” says Lucas.

“We chose to tell the story of a young man who faces challenges that would cause most to give up, but he never does give up. We look into his plight for housing.”

He says the project was very rewarding because it gave him a chance to show what he could do.

Madikisa, who was director of photography for the doccie, says he wants to give audiences a glimpse into someone else’s life.

“I always imagine that we’d have much more compassion and understanding if we actually knew a bit about the lives of the people around us. I think we’ve both done enough work in this field to call ourselves activists, and the way we confront injustice and inequality is through our cameras.

“Before we started filming, I was contacted by a producer to be part of a series of films, which all covered the theme of home and belonging. I then got in touch with Wonga, and we decided to collaborate on this story. A story which both of us relate to strongly and a theme which we’ve been working on for some time now.”

He says this is the first project where he had to draw up a budget and was able to work with a paid crew and editor.

“One of the highlights for me was working with our editor. Sitting in the editing room and constructing the story together with someone who has years of experience with her craft was amazing.

“I learned not to fly too far away with a drone when the battery is flashing red. I also learned to go with my instincts and pay special attention to lighting and exposure. A key takeaway for me was the realisation again of how powerful the camera can be. People trust us with their stories. The onus is on us to treat their stories with the utmost respect and truth.”

Adriaan Madikisa filming in Imizamo Yethu in September.
The poster for Mandilakhe – Let Me Build, starring Mandilakhe Chuku, which will screen at the Activists Without Borders Film Festival in Manchester on Saturday December 16.