WA ‘N WINA (Sincerely Yours) 00:52:21

Target Audience

Youth and adults

Key Issues

Gender and sexuality

Socio-economic factors (unemployment, drug abuse, pregnancy)

Relationships

Life skills

Youth and HIV

Film Outline

Filmmaker Dumisani Phakathi returns to his old neighbourhood. With a camera on his shoulder, he engages with friends to discuss relationships, sex and love. Strong characters like Phumla and Timothy expose their emotions as they talk intimately about the realities of their street and the choices they have been forced to make. It ‘s a rock and roll journey that reveals the gaps between everyday life and the AIDS campaigns that often talk past the very people they are supposed to address. It is the recognition of the people’s will
to survive in the age of AIDS.

Questions For Discussion

  • What do you think this film is about?
  • What are the concerns facing people in this community?
  • What are the differences or similarities between their challenges and the challenges faced by your community?
  • What are the different attitudes between men and women in this community towards sex and relationships?
  • What are the different attitudes between men and women in this community towards pregnancy and parenting?
  • How do you think these attitudes can contribute to the transmission of HIV?
  • Which life skills could some of the men in this film benefit from?
  • Which life skills could some of the women in this film benefit from?
  • What do you think the message of this film is?

Synopsis:

“I’ve been told that half of the people my age are going to be infected with the HIV virus by the time they are thirty. I went back to my neighbourhood to see how people are negotiating with their lives in this time of AIDS.”

Young filmmaker Dumisani Phakathi returns from a white suburb to his old neighbourhood in Phiri, Soweto. His investigation covers relationships between men and women, their attitudes to sex and the socio-economic factors that contribute to the construction of such attitudes. It is a film full of life and energy.

The film is divided into three sections: Life, Phumla and Wa ‘N Wina (sincerely yours). Dumisani walks around his street with his camera, interacting with people in their homes, yards and as they walk the street itself. We witness group discussions, intimate revelations by individuals direct to camera and community events. 

In the first scene Dumisani asks two men walking down the street, “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere,” they reply. An old woman, picking through a pile of rubbish, is looking for used coal, which she washes and re-uses. She explains that they are so poor and it is very cold.

Against this backdrop of unemployment and poverty we meet various real-life characters from the street. There is Zonke, for whom having a hard-on is a sign of life. When asked how he is, really, he replies, “Surviving. I don’t have AIDS yet”. His brother Mzwandile, is HIV-positive. And while Zonke and his mates pump iron in the back yard, Mzwandile holds his AIDS Consortium Workshop meetings out front. Their father calls them “my two cocks – they like sex too much.”

Then there is Timothy, who has a way with women. He has a child but is no longer together with his girlfriend. When he is shown footage of her talking about their relationship, he tells us that she made mistakes because she loves him too much.

Dumisani interviews a number of women from the street who state their views on men and relationships. “You should make a film about teenage pregnancy,” one teenage mother suggests. Her boyfriend told her that if they used condoms it would mean she was promiscuous. The baby is sick. According to the father, she is better off dead.

Phumla, another teenage mother, has a similar story, which is revealed over the course of the film in some detail. She lost her virginity to her first boyfriend, the father of her child, and has since developed a drinking problem. She drinks to forget the stress of having to provide for a baby while still at school. In one scene she claims that it is better to commit to the bottle than to a man. She wishes she was a boy, because boys can do whatever they want without getting into trouble. “I behave like a boy, she says, that’s why I stress my parents.” To her mother’s shame, Phumla gets into trouble with the police. It is her parents who support her and her child.

In a household of women, a young woman cries because her father no longer lives there. In the kitchen, she and her mother discuss men’s lack of responsibility when it comes to making a girl pregnant. If a girl gets pregnant, the man gets away with it. 

“There is nothing fabulous about this ghetto, ” says Dumisani at one point.

In the third section, a group of girls are filmed in discussion with Timothy, who doesn’t believe there are any virgins, except one or two in the rural areas. Timothy seems to be more interested in the size of his dick or the slackness of a woman’s vagina. One young woman states: “We are being pressured into doing things we don’t want to do.”

A group of men discuss what it means to be a man. It used to mean that you had gone to prison and experienced physical hardship. Someone else claims that being a man is about providing for your family. The film seems to ask which role is more likely, given the circumstance these men find themselves in.

At the end Dumisani talks to an old woman after she has objected to being counted like a goat for the census. In her opinion it is still the white man’s country, despite the democratic elections. 

“We left our way of life to come to this place,” she says.

Director’s biography: 

Dumisani Phakathi was born in Soweto twenty six years ago. Having matriculated in 1993 at Phafogang High School in Soweto, he went to work at Die Beeld, a leading Afrikaans newspaper.

In 1995, Dumi joined TV production company – Urban Brew -as a trainee director. A year later he conceptualized his own youth actuality programme called The Electric Workshop which went on for five years with the same company. 

1996 marked a move into theater as he enrolled for a training programme at the Market Theater Laboratory, deciding to try his hand at acting. Whilst there he worked on numerous plays, one of his favorites being Gomorrah, which went on to tour throughout Europe. This was the beginning of his work in drama.

His work in plays and TV continued until 1999 when he was accepted for the M-net New Young Directors’ Competition – “New Directions”. As a result of this he directed his first short film, An Old Wife’s Tale. This film went on to win several South African Television Awards. From here on his recognition as a professional film director grew. His first documentary, Rough Ride, previewed at the end of 1999 to international acclaim. Rough Ride charted the evolution and sub-culture of South African minibus taxis.

He continued his work with TV documentaries, mostly dealing with issues surrounding HIV/AIDS and in 2000 he directed his second short film – Christmas with Granny – which received a special mention at the Toronto Film Festival.

Dumi is currently writing a short film entitled Waiting for Valdez.

Director’s comments:

2880 hours and thirty-five minutes – and Wa ‘N Wina is finished. What a ride. For all these hours nothing else mattered but the film. I was close to cutting both my ears. 

No university course can come close to this experience; in four months I learnt so much.

In the beginning, I was very naive, ” I can do this, it’s very easy a film set in my street”. It turned out to be the most difficult film I have done to date. The street swallowed me and the camera, I was no more the calculated and meticulous auteur, I was just a guy with camera. I fought with the street, it was not quiet when I wanted it to be and busy when I wanted it to, people where no saying what I hoped they will say. It did not rain.

After a few weeks I learnt not to fight with the street, I had a life of it’s own far greater and
important that my aesthetical motif.

After excepting that the street can not be empty when I want it to be, things changed, they changed for the better. I was learning.    

Wa ‘N Wina is finished, it’s not mine anymore, there’s a void. I hope I said what I could and had to.

Thank you to everyone especially the people from my street.

Credits:

Production Companies       

Waapiti Productions

Director                            

Dumisani Phakathi

Producer                           

Mickey Madoda Dube

Cinematographer              

  • Dumisani Phakathi 
  • Mathys Mocke

Sound                              

President Kapa

Editors                             

  • Vuyani Sondlo 
  • Menno Boerema

Music                               

  • Zim Ngqawana
  • Sheer Sound

Professional Support         

  • Haile Gerima
  • Ramadan Suleman
  • Bheki Peterson 
  • Nick Fraser