South African filmmaker Weaam Williams says pitching her forthcoming feature film “Two Hues” at NEXT Marche du Film Festival De Cannes was a dream come true.
“The Cannes Film Festival and the market is always an overwhelming experience, it is where the ‘crème de la crème’ of the film industry, worldwide, gather to network, pitch and exhibit their work.
“My pitch did not happen under perfect conditions, due to last-minute travel arrangements and my delayed visa, I arrived in France and had to register at the Marche du Film, and pitch on the same day. I was quite exhausted,” shared Williams.
“Ideally, I would have liked to have a day to register prior and orientate myself, however, despite these conditions, I believe the pitch went well.
“The return of investment on my film, as forecasted by largo.ai analytics, is very high, it is actually the highest ROI of the 15 people who pitched.
“With regards to human scores, I performed quite well. I got a 75% score from the room I pitched to.
She continued: “It was quite unnerving, as the room of film industry professionals were given the power to pass or fail you using an app on their phone, and the score is announced immediately after you pitch.
“It is the first-of-a-kind pitch like this I have done. So 75% of the people in the room and online believed that the ‘Two Hues’ feature film will get made.”
“Marche du Film, Cannes, 2022, was wonderful, I met influential people from around the world, with access to funding and distribution to give my projects legs. However, the work happens after the festival, with following up and ensuring that opportunities are maximised,” she added.
“Two Hues” was first released as a short film in 2020. Williams shared the director credit with Dominique Roxanne Jossie.
“Two Hues” is a psychological short film about a bipolar woman with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and her life navigating the patriarchy in her family and the workplace.
Her vision with the feature film is to shine the spotlight on mental issues, while tackling the impacts of trauma.
“I would like for our society to have a more holistic and empathetic approach towards mental health and victims of trauma.
“Two Hues” has given women a voice and, shortly after the release of the short film, many women in the Muslim community “came out” and publicly spoke of the trauma they had endured.
“I was also flooded by messages on my social media from women who appreciate the film and had lived through some kind of sexual assault or abuse. ‘Two Hues’ is a film for women worldwide, who face similar circumstances,” said Williams.
Williams added that the film also explores the exclusion of cultural minorities, an issue that is deeply personal to her.
“This is an issue very personal to me as a Muslim filmmaker. In South Africa, I am not white and although, politically, I identify as black, my skin colour and culture are not the same as that of black Africans, and I find that in my difference, I am often excluded from important conversations or even national competitions like the Saftas – where it seems that a white person making a film about black people will receive more acknowledgement than my films about my own community.
“It is for this reason that I choose to align myself to a global community of filmmakers, where my work is judged by its artistic merit, and the issues I bring to the surface are appreciated and engaged with.
“I am always grateful to South African audiences who continue to applaud my work, and when there are cinema screenings, South African people really do show up. However, it is the established fraternity here that I struggle with and their ongoing exclusion of ‘otherness’,” said Williams.
Since its debut two years ago, “Two Hues” has made waves across various international films festivals and won several accolades, including Best Short Film at the Beyond The Curve International Film Festival, and Best Directed Short Film at the North Europe International Film Festival.
The film also scooped the London Best Women Empowerment Film, Berlin Short Film Festival Best Lead Actress, and West Europe International Film Festival, Brussels Best Featurette (a film between a short and feature).