'We all need to be engaged in the act of raising children'

General , Films

Zamo Mkhwanazi is a filmmaker with extensive experience in television shows, short films and feature films. She shares her thoughts on being a director of Melodi, which is one of the Heartlines Fathers Matter films, and why she thinks South Africa needs to be talking about the realities of fatherhood.

The six Heartlines Fathers Matter films will be aired weekly on SABC 2 at 8:30pm every Saturday, starting from 17 September 2022. 

Which film are you directing? What is it about?

I’m directing Melodi. You can read more about the film here.

What do you like about the story?

What drew me in was that I found it to be quite realistic and subtle. It is sensitive about the various issues that go on in families when there are these kinds of disjointed relationships.

The story resonated with so many members of our cast. There are things in all of our lives where we could say from the script "Yes, I've seen this", "I've experienced this", or "I know someone who's experienced this".

Picture by Mark Lewis

Are you excited to be one of the directors on the Fathers Matter campaign? Why?

Yes, because it's an issue that needs to be addressed in our country. For me, as a woman, one of the things that was really appealing about this story is that it's a female lead; a daughter looking for her father. We all almost instinctively understand that boys need their fathers to teach them to be men, but we very rarely really get to the crux of why girls also need their fathers in their lives.

There's a great scene in the film where the lead character talks about being with the wrong men because she was looking for the right man, because she never had him in her life... she had no one at home to show her: this is the way you should be treated. The relationships that women have in their lives are very often affected by the relationship that they had with their fathers. We need to be congnisant of that psychology in South Africa so that we can break the cycle of generations of fatherlessness.

How do you feel about contributing to the broader narrative that exists around the topic of fatherhood in South Africa?

Postive. I think that fathers matter a lot. My father was an incredibly important person in my life, and I wouldn't be the person I am if he hadn't been in my world. So, I really ask myself all the time what it's like to grow up without a father and how it shapes you, because I definitely know that knowing my father shaped me as a person.

Any thoughts on film as a way to inspire social change in South Africa?

I think that all of South Africa needs to watch this film because there's a sense of loss in our country of what the idea of fatherhood is and how incredibly important it is. There are a lot of men who think that as long as a child is fed and there is someone to stop them from playing into the streets, then the child is fine. But a child needs someone to listen to them, someone to pick them up when they fall and say, "You're going to be alright." To be in someone's strong arms and feel safe. That doesn't cost money. It's not a big effort, but it makes such a huge difference to a child's sense of safety and their feeling that they can go out into the world and someone will catch them when they fall.

It's really important for all of us to be engaged in the act of raising children properly so that we can have a better society. Otherwise we're all going to suffer for it. 

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