Cape Town short film scoops international award

Writer and co-director of Two Hues, Weaam Williams.

A Cape Town-based short film has scooped the Best Short Film award at an international premiere at the Beyond the International Curve Film Festival, in Paris.

With a portion set in Bo-Kaap, Two Hues, tells the story of a woman who is a silent victim of sexual assault and it raises questions around mental health and trauma, and how these are interrelated.

Writer and co-director, Weaam Williams, said she was walking in the forest when she had the idea to write a script for a short film about bipolar disorder and use colour to convey the opposite mood polarities as experienced by a person suffering from the mental disorder.

“I thought that the word hues would be a nice play on words conveying the colour but also you as in the opposite spectrum of a mood. I then made an application for this concept to the National Film and Video Foundation and it was successful,” she said.

She said she’s always been passionate about writing and she realised from a very young age that she was meant to be an author of some sort.

“In high school my short story was chosen for our school’s annual publication, and at university, my poetry was selected for the English faculties publication too.

“One of my close friends from UCT who is now an advocate actually said to me that it was a defining moment for both of us, as my poetry was selected and not hers. She knew then that she was meant to pursue a career in law, and me as a writer,” she said.

She said Two Hues is her first fiction project, as a co-director. She also plays the lead in the film, which she had many doubts about, she said. However, she eventually listened to her inner voice and the words of encouragement from her husband, Nafia Kocks, who is also the cinematographer for Two Hues.

“I am so happy I made this decision given the success of the film at present, the award from Beyond The Curve, as well as being nominated for Best Lead Actress in a short film at our UK premiere coming up in March with North Europe International Film Festival – London. Dominique Roxanne Jossie and I have also been nominated for Best Director of a short film,” she said.

She said the film highlights the struggle women from minority cultural backgrounds face within the workplace, but also the patriarchal way in which society is constructed.

“My protagonist is a Muslim woman who deals with conflict at home because she is too independent in her thinking and in the workplace because she is Muslim and does not fit the box. I guess it also highlights the long-term effects and psychological trauma victims of sexual assault have to live with,” she said.

She said she chose Bo-Kaap because it is a traditional Cape Malay community and it is also space which is internationally recognised.

Touching on what the award means to her, she said, there is an appetite for unique South African stories.

“My work comes from a very real and authentic place and it is of interest to the international community. I acknowledge my influences with Two Hues. It is aesthetically inspired by Three Colours Blue. However, I also try to remain true to myself as an artist and story-teller,” she said.

Asked to comment on the state of the South African film industry, she said she felt South Africa, and particularly the Western Cape needed to focus more on content creation of local filmmakers.

In the Western Cape, she said, they were disadvantaged in that they did not have a film commission as they do Gauteng and KZN. She said both these commissions fund films, and filmmakers from these regions are able to access funding via regional film commissions.

“The South African industry also needs to diversify, and affirm different voices not only those put forward by the gatekeepers.

“I cannot speak for the whole industry but I do know that many black filmmakers are struggling, and the pandemic has heightened this. We need to think of creative ways to reinvent our industry. However, we also need big platforms to engage with South African production companies and open up the commissioning process as it seems to be very illusive at the moment,” she said.