Rogério Manjate’s short film ‘I Love You’ wins at Africa In Motion (AIM)
Film has the power to inspire by visually drawing us into the message. Rogério Manjate understands this and helps is feel the power throught his short film. Jamati.com caught up with him to learn more.
Jamati: Hello Rogério, I want to thank you for doing this interview for Jamati. Let me start off by congratulating you on winning a short film competition at Africa In Motion (AIM) for your film I Love You.
Thank you very much.
Jamati: There is an important message packed in such a short film. The film is three minutes long. What inspired you to deal with the issue of safe sex in the way that you did in the film?
It has to do with our time, our lives. And this message is very important everywhere, and particularly in Africa and in all countries in development, if we talk about HIV/AIDS. But more than safe sex, for me this film is about love and care. When the boy tells her, I know where you are going, no matter what you are doing, take care, I love you! We are in the 21st century, and this is something very important.
Jamati: While watching the film, I also noticed that there is very little dialogue. This seems to be a deliberate choice. What made you shoot the film in this way?
There is no dialogue because this film was produced for UNESCO, and on the call for proposal, one of the rules was to not have dialogue, or [to have]very little dialogue, because they wanted to show those films all over the world, without the necessity of sub-titles. But this sequence was already written like this, except the end, as the first scene of a short film script I’ve been writing about the life of this girl and boy.
Jamati: I read that you hail from Mozambique and were born in Maputo and have acted in several Mozambican films. How do you find the time to act and also direct films like I Love You, as well as direct for theatre?
I don’t see acting as a Hollywood type actor. Here we don’t have any industry of cinema, so it’s when it happens – and the last film I acted in was a small role in 2005. The most important thing is to plan it very well. In 2007, for example, I directed two films in the first semester, and in the second I acted, and also went to theater festivals abroad. In 2008 I am more in the theater, but with different roles. I have been writing projects for documentaries. I hope I get funds to produce them in 2009. For next year, I already have plans to go back to the stage, directing and playing.
Jamati: How do you reconcile the differences between the theatre and film worlds? Do you prefer one to the other?
I am a theater person. Theater as a creative process is more interesting than cinema, and the idea of building up a play in every single rehearsal is fantastic. But also the contact with the audience each night is wonderful, because you keep improving. But also working in cinema has its fun. But, essentially, what I am doing in theater, cinema or literature – with different means, techniques and languages – is storytelling. That’s what is important in the end.
Jamati: I Love You is beautifully shot. Can I ask what camera you shot this on? Do you have a preference for a particular type of camera?
It was a Sony HVR Z1 HDV 1080i. We shot in HDV format.
Jamati: Growing up, would you say you were outgoing and creative?
I real couldn’t imagine it. The only thing I understood was that I was intelligent. I grew up watching, and listening to, and reading stories, and going to cinema. This is what drove me to the theater and from there to the arts in general. My dream was to become an engineer or something like that. That’s why I studied agronomy at the university.
Jamati: From where do you draw your inspiration?
Generally I don’t like the word inspiration, because this is just a flash in the whole creative process. I read a sentence somewhere. I see or I listen to something useful for others, and I transform it to art, to a story. That is how I work. It means that it comes from the daily life, including the books I read, and the films I see.
Jamati: Who are some of your mentors and influences?
My first contacts with stories and cinema while I was a simple kid are the most important influences on my artistic life. That is why Charles Chaplin is still important for me. But with the same importance of filmmakers such as Spielberg and Kubrick. I am eclectic – I don’t have one director, one actor, one writer. And my engagement with the theater in 1991 was very important. And all people I’ve worked with, they’ve influenced me anyhow.
Jamati: What are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome in your professional life, and how did you deal with those obstacles?
Generally it is difficult to be 100% an artist in countries like Mozambique. There is no school for the arts, for example, no cultural policies. There are no funds for cinema. So, you need to work on something else to survive.
Jamati: How did you get your first break into the film and theatre mediums?
When I was watching a play or a film, I was always saying to myself, “I am able to do this.” Some friends were working at the theater and I just joined them. The same for films. Friends invited me to start something and mainly I have been using my experience in directing for theater. That’s why ‘I Love You’ has some theatrical spices, some fun.
Jamati: What was the last film you watched?
The Passenger by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Jamati: What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers out there?
I am the one who needs advice.
Jamati: So, what’s next for you? Let the readers know what you’re currently working on and where they can view your work.
We are looking for funds for a documentary about an island in Mozambique, with a lot of history. It is about the life of the main tourist guide down there, who is also the elder at the island. I hope at the end of 2009, it will be ready. I am also writing scripts for short films; nothing finished yet.
Jamati: Thank you Rogério, and best of luck in everything that you do.
Check out Rogério’s award winning short film I Love You below: