By Suzanne Cross
This is was our fifth visit to Mrs. Zikhali, Thanda Myeni, the Nkomo School children, and their teachers. Each visit has brought us even closer, breaking down barriers of distance, language, and culture.
During our past visits, Mrs. Zikhali’s husband has always been very cordial to us, but on this visit we saw a loving, animated person who cares deeply for his wife, respects her passion for education, and strongly supports the extraordinary demands on her time. My wish is to be able to reveal the heart and soul of this passion in our film.
After all the film production pre-planning and the many advance phone calls to our Nkomo School friends, we were still not sure how much of their time would be needed for our interviews and general filming.
Day after day, I was learning. On the second day, we were setting up to interview Mrs. Zikhali outside in the late afternoon. We could not seem to find a suitable background and kept moving Mrs. Zikhali and her chair all over the front area of the school. The light kept changing as the sun got lower. The air began to chill.
Our frustration brought about our first disagreement. Irritated, John finally picked up the chair and firmly plopped it down in yet another spot, which created a very tense moment among us. We paused, gingerly forged ahead, and finally completed our first interview with Mrs. Zikhali. We were all tired and cold. This was work.
We brought with us 70 hours of tape, which would translate into almost 5 hours of filming every day, including the weekends. Yet, every day we were warmly greeted and welcomed at the school even though daily administration tasks and required meetings were often compromised by our filming needs.
We had built such a strong network of relationships in this rural Zululand community over the past 8 years that our needs became their priorities, friend to friend. Our dream of this documentary was finally happening.