Turning Around | Mr. Ignacious Mwambola



Chakhala Village, Mchinji District, Malawi

So much of the news from Africa is depressing: famine, aids, wars, orphans, despots, you name it. It’s not just the mainstream media; I’ve been hit recently by a kind of “year-end giving blitz” when relief agencies scramble for your 2009 tax planning largesse. Lots of hungry kids with flies in their eyes. I’m told by my non-profit friends that this is because people only give to tragedy not joy.

I understand this. I don’t blame them, and I don’t think they overstate or outright lie just to raise money, at least as far as I can tell.

What’s lost in that reportage, and in mainstream imagery, is how crazy wonderful the people and place is. Since mid-July, I’ve spent a month in Africa, enmeshed in a couple of pretty serious issues but there’s a great deal of joy.

I don’t want to downplay the problems or fetishize smiling kids. But I get a little tired of how we often fetishize starving kids with flies in their eyes.

This video is just some videographic ballast. I guess to offset the depressing imagery bombarding me these days. It’s a series of random cuts — stuff that happens behind my back during shooting (or mostly…some of it’s just travel shots). Mainly, it’s moments in-between official shooting where I can turn the camera around to the gaggle of kids pressing to see what the camera sees. Most video cameras have flip out LCD screens that, when turned around, becomes a kind of mirror. It’s all just “non-footage” as far as the real piece is concerned, but in some ways it expresses something similar to what we hope to achieve with the “official” work.

I cut this after staring at my screen for nearly 5 straight days editing the “official cut.” I’m tired and need a break, so I spent some time putting this together to clear my brain. This cut isn’t intended to do anything other than celebrate Iggy and these people with whom I’ve had the privilege to share in their lives for a moment.

About the song:
It’s titled Ancestor, by Ignacious Mwambola. Iggy is a local musician in Mchinji who has graciously lent us some of his songs for a film.

included in this weird, 3 a.m edit:
-You can see Iggy singing at around the 4:10 mark.

-Geo, a crazy erotic monkey–a female I might add–at a joint in Zanzibar.

-kids and women from Mchinji, Malawi mainly shot on the soccer field (“football pitch”) in Mchinji

-Lake Malawi (most of the water scenes that don’t involve an airplane wing). All shot in Nkata Bay.

-Mikey Rosato: the only Mzungu (white guy) you see in a few clips.

-Fulla and Mfumu (Sonia and Mikey’s dogs). Fulla the pup, Mfumu (“chief” in chichewa) the elder.