Former 50/50 TV programme content producer Bridget Horne, right, celebrates with Jamila Janna on her successful documentary pitch at the Nature, Environment and Film-makers congress in Durban on Wednesday night.
INDIGENOUS beliefs and knowledge of the people matter as much as the reasons Marine Protected Areas exist, argued an aspirant film-maker, Jamila Janna, who on Wednesday night won a R50 000 grant to make a documentary on the issue.

Janna was one of 11 aspirant film-makers shortlisted to pitch documentary ideas at the Nature, Environment and Wildlife Film-makers’ (NEWF) conference in Durban this week.

In her pitch titled “Wild Coast Wallflower”, 22-year-old Janna described how she had been raised in a conservative Durban community that placed little value on women.

“I have been constrained by some religious laws that see females fit for household duties alone,” said Janna.

This lifestyle, she said, reduced women to nothing more than “just wallpaper”.

“My community’s perception of who I was meant to be and my perception of who I should be clashed horns first,” said Janna.

She said this was also the case when Marine Protected Areas (MPA) were implemented without considering the needs of indigenous people living in these coastal regions, such as in Hluleka on the Wild Coast.

“I’ve stumbled across a community that lost their coastal space 26 years ago and whose voices are still ignored till this day.

“The people of Hluleka, who live around the narrow Hluleka MPA, are traumatised and resistant to outside help and do not believe in scientists having good intentions,” said Janna.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal marine biology honours student and WildOceans intern said her film would be shot “fly-on-the-wall, reality-style”, capturing the conversation of a group of locals willing to tell their story.

“I’m not a saviour to the Hluleka people, rather a medium that will create an avenue for healing,” she said.

Janna was invited to make her pitch at the congress after her presentation on the diets of two species of St Lucia snails was well received at last year’s Conservation Symposium in the KZN Midlands.

Also among the congress winners was Jessica Lambson, who received a grant to make a documentary on the endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles at KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Isimangaliso Wetland Park.

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