NKOLE NKOLE, Lusaka
AWARD-WINNING author Ellen Banda-Aaku’s documentary “Aunty Rebecca” was selected as a semi-finalist at the African International Film Festival (AFRIFF) in Lagos, Nigeria where the critically-acclaimed film “I Am Not a Witch” by Rugano Nyoni won the Best Feature Film prize.
Ellen produced and directed her first documentary film about a Zambian volunteer social counsellor who has devoted her life to educating the community on cancer and HIV.
The 26-minute documentary, set in Zambia, highlights the challenges faced in the fight against cervical cancer in Zambia.
In July 2017, Ellen submitted the film to AFRIFF. It was one of the 40 out of 2,300 submissions selected for screening at the film festival last month despite it being produced on a low budget.
It was selected as a semi-finalist in the Best Short Film category.
Ellen says she met Rebecca in 2013 while commissioned by the Zambian Cancer Society (ZCS) to write a book documenting the personal stories of people touched by cancer in Zambia.
“I was so in awe of the passion and dedication Aunty Rebecca had for helping others,” she says. “I decided to make a film to tell her story because I felt words on a page would not fully capture the essence of who she is and the work she does.”
Seeing Ellen had no funding to make the film, she considered embarking on a fundraising campaign.
She was however not confident she would get enough support for the project as a first time filmmaker.
When her friend gave her £500, she decided to start the project and see how it would progress stage by stage.
Filming eventually took her to Matero Clinic in Lusaka and the Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) located within the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in November last year.
Ellen says “Aunty Rebecca” will over the next year be submitted to film festivals worldwide.
“From the reception it got at AFRIFF, I am hopeful it will be selected for more screenings,” she adds.