STORIES: Jessie Zinn, the director of Into Us and Ours.
STORIES: Jessie Zinn, the director of Into Us and Ours.
FRACTURED: Emilie Badenhorst and Qondiswa James.
FRACTURED: Emilie Badenhorst and Qondiswa James.

Yale Nayman

A SHORT film by young Cape Town film-makers is generating a buzz on the international film festival circuit. The film, Into Us and Ours –”a story of love and misunderstanding”, directed by Jessie Zinn (22) was selected for the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, taking place next month (May 11 – 22). That was exciting news and then last week, Into Us and Ours won the award for Best International Short Film at the prestigious Ivy International Film Festival, based at Brown University in Providence, USA.

Some of the other contenders in the Ivy International Short Film category were nominated for Oscars and yet a 13-minute film from Cape Town won the toss. The Ivy is a big deal of a festival and attracts key players in the industry. To give an idea of the scope, this year, speakers included Robert de Niro and Jodie Foster.

In addition to Cannes and the Ivy, Into Us and Ours has also been selected for other international festival such as CinemAfrica (Sweden) and National Festival for Talented Youth (aka NFFTY in Washington). NFFTY is said to be the world’s largest film festival for emerging directors. Each year the festival showcases films by directors 24 and under. Since January, Into Us and Ours has been screened at seven international film festivals and there are more screenings this year.

The film is a complex and nuanced 13-minute film, layered with images which tap very much into the rage, despair, frustration and confusion of the so called Born Free Generation: many of whom don’t feel free at all. It tracks one day in the life of two young women. An incident shatters their relationship. The postmortem of the event occurs in the one woman’s family home, during load-shedding and that heightens the tension.

Zinn reflects: “The film grapples with how the new (or ‘rainbow nation’) South Africa has been built upon a fractured and very tenuous foundation that affects young South Africans on a daily basis.”

Into Us and Ours was Zinn’s graduation film, completed as part of her BA in film production at UCT. It was mentored by Jenna Bass – award winning film-maker (Love the One You Love). Although Zinn conceived the story, the script was workshopped with the cast and production team. Each line of dialogue was developed with the actors in a lengthy process.

As a result the intensely plotted script transcends what one might expect from the average student film. The film stars two UCT drama students Qondiswa James and Emilie Badenhorst and also features acclaimed professional actors Faniswa Yisa and Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. English, Xhosa, Afrikaans are woven intertwined in the script.

Zinn and four members of the team are getting ready to jet off to Cannes. There’s no stress involved in anticipation of winning awards. The Short Film Corner is separate from the main festival and is not a competition. It’s a platform for emerging film-makers and a mammoth networking event. Zinn identifies strongly as a feminist film-maker and is passionate about probing female narratives and reflecting what's happening in our society. Last year (during her final year at UCT), Zinn had two of her films screened at the Cape Town leg of the Shnit International Film Festival (Umva and Grace).

Umva was selected for The Made in South Africa Competition. Most of her short films have turned the gaze on her generation; grappling with issues of identity, belonging and their relationship to the Apartheid past. “Film is a powerful medium to tell our stories”, says Zinn.

The young film-maker is working on several film treatments – a feature and documentary - which she plans on taking with her to Cannes to pitch for funding.

The concept for her feature length documentary is about tampon tax and health/hygiene issues affecting school girls in South Africa.

Zinn says she hopes to find funders at the festival to come on board.

“It is an industry which creates jobs and if we can get our films on the international circuit, it is an opportunity to provide insight into our continent. Any funders out there?”

l www.intothefilm.com, www.face book.com/intothefilm, Trailer: vimeo.com/127647100 Indiegogo campaign: igg.me/at/intothefilm Vimeo: vimeo.com/intousthefilm