Vivian Nweze in ’Etana’. Picture: Supplied
Vivian Nweze in ’Etana’. Picture: Supplied

SA's Marian de Pontes' 'Etana' selected for Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Jun 3, 2021

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South African film director, Marian de Pontes is on a mission to tell inclusive and diverse African female stories in Hollywood.

Her latest film “Etana” earned her a Horizon Award, a finalist position at the 2021 USA Film Festival and an official selection of the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival.

“Etana” focuses on the title character, played by Vivian Nweze and her attempt to flee her forced servitude in an army that deploys child soldiers.

Scene from “Etana”. Picture: Supplied.

“I desire and aim to create films with diverse and inclusive voices, to tell female and African stories that have an impact on the ways people think about their approach to each other and the world.

“My ambition is to create films with diverse and inclusive voices. I love to make films about the most inspiring people I know, badass women,” said Pontes about the award-winning film.

Marian de Pontes. Picture: Supplied.

Currently living in Los Angeles, California and under the mentorship of Cassian Elwes, producer of “Dallas Buyers Club” and shadowing TV director Tucker Gates known for shows like “Homeland” and “Bates Motel”, she is passionate about using the medium of film to tell thought-provoking stories that create the space for important conversations.

Born and raised by two highly scientific and hard working parents, science was an "every day" for Marian, but art and film always snuck their way in.

She said she owed her success to taking calculated risks, not being easily deterred, and her love for a challenge.

“The best response to someone who tries to obstruct you is to smile sweetly and make your kick-ass movie,” she said.

With Hollywood mentors backing this South African director, and with multiple awards and nominations under her belt, it is easy to say that her approach and perspective are paying off.

“The ability to believe in yourself and say, I want to find out if I can actually do this or not. These are the mindsets that really helped me,” said Pontes.

With science fiction as her genre of choice, Marian is most interested and excited about the evolution of the genre with real science for the future.

I’m working on two science fiction features, one set in South Africa and one set in space.

When filming opens again in LA I will be preparing and filming another short film towards the end of the year,“ she said.

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