Bringing Che's Congo revolution to life

2017-12-24 20:00
Khalo Matabane

Johannesburg - Filmmaker Khalo Matabane is breaking new ground in making a movie about the time Argentine Marxist revolutionary and guerrilla leader Che Guevara spent in the Congo.

Guevara’s exploits in the African country were a story Matabane always wanted to tell, but never had the money for, he says.

He plans to fund the project using crowdfunding.

“Crowdfunding helps me have a certain sense of autonomy. I can think, dream and breathe the story,” he says.

He hopes this approach to raising the money will allow him time to research and write for the next 12 months.

“I would like to travel to the Congo and Cuba too. There are different incentives for those who invest or contribute to the film. If the film ever makes a profit, I will return every single cent plus 10% to the investors.”

Matabane says there are many people who want to be part of telling the story of Guevara’s trip to the Congo. He says it was not a well-known episode in his life, but was important because it happened in the 1960s, during the Cold War.

“This is a story of a war that never happened, a story about the failure of a revolution.

“Out of this failure though, Fidel Castro was able to strategise differently and today we all know about Cuba’s contribution to the anti-colonial struggles on the African continent, including our own anti-apartheid struggle.

“This spirit of international solidarity among the oppressed people across the globe is a political ideology that I would like to explore.”

Matabane (43) has been based in Cape Town for the last seven years.

Although he was born in Limpopo, he has lived most of his life in Johannesburg.

He has worked with executive producer Carolyn Carew on the film The Number, alongside Anant and Sanjeev Singh of Videovision Entertainment.

Asked how the fundraising process was going so far, he says: “I’ve just started. I was surprised by the response on Instagram. Young black professionals and even strangers contacted me. I didn’t expect it.”

Some of the first people to invest were Deputy Higher Education Minister Buti Manamela and actor Warren Masemola.

“There have been contributions from London and San Francisco. I need more people to invest. I think this method is rather new to most South Africans, so people are trying to figure out how it works,” he explains.

Finding money and distributing their work is always a challenge for filmmakers, he says. Every project presents its own difficulties, but he has been fortunate so far in finding the money. His projects have included State of Violence (2010), which was his first full-length feature, When We Were Black (2006) and Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon (2005).

Now he is focusing on feature films.

“I have always been fascinated by revolutionaries, larger than life figures and this passion to fight for freedom.

“Che Guevara is one of those revolutionaries who captured my imagination. He was idealistic and committed, someone who was prepared to sacrifice his family, country and himself for a cause. And yet, like all human beings, he had his own contradictions, weaknesses and failings.”

To make a one-off contribution, starting at $10 (about R127), visit Indiegogo.

Alternatively, for a minimum of $3 per month, you can be part of the creative journey and watch videos and even talk to Matabane via Skype as he begins to craft this feature.

Read more on:    congo  |  movies

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