31 January 2020 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Johan Roux
Short film
Mpendulo Myeni won the iamAFRICA Short Film Competition with his production, EYELASH. He will attend the red-carpet screening of his film in Los Angeles in the US later in February.

When two childhood best friends fall in love, they are too afraid to tell each other; blowing an eyelash becomes the only way to realise their wish. This is the plot of an award-winning film that will receive a red-carpet screening at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles in February. 

Mpendulo Myeni, UFS alumnus and recently appointed Assistant Officer in the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State (UFS), won the prestigious iamAFRICA Short Film Competition with his production, Eyelash.

Honoured among African filmmakers

Myeni says his love for films comes from his mother. “You could say she instilled in me a passion for films. I remember when I was younger, my five siblings and I always loved watching superhero movies. As a gift, my late mother got us a membership card at the video store chain. She started a tradition that after school, we would go by the video store and rent movies.”

From being exposed to cult classics during his childhood to developing this passion into a degree in Drama and later Film, and now winning this prestigious international award, is a dream come true for Myeni. 

“I knew God would guide me to the place where the content I make, would garner attention on an international platform. However, I did not know that my first public film release would draw such attention. So, all the glory goes to God on this one.”

“I would also never have been able to do this without my partner, co-writer, producer, and cinematographer Faith Riyano; the cast and crew of Eyelash; and the amazing support of the lecturers and staff in the UFS Department of Film and Visual Media.”

Myeni says he is honoured to be recognised among his fellow African filmmakers. 

Finding new storytelling talent

The iamAFRICA Short Film Competition is a YouTube project in partnership with the Pan African Film Festival and The Africa Narrative. They aimed to find new storytelling talent based in Sub-Saharan Africa and received more than 160 submissions from across the African continent.

Criteria were, among others, that the film should be in English or have English subtitles, it must be less than 30 minutes, and it should be shot entirely on the African continent.

Michelle van Gilder, founder of The Africa Narrative, says: “The African continent is bursting with creative talent waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world, which is why this initiative is so exciting. These young directors represent the excellence of Africa’s filmmaking community, and it’s a joy to see their stories brought to a global audience.”

Marc Brogdon, Director of Marketing for PAFF, says Eyelash beautifully captures the excellence and artistry of African filmmaking that the competition aimed to identify and showcase to the rest of the world. “This is just the beginning of what is sure to be an exciting journey in bringing your film to a wider audience,” he congratulated Myeni. 

Learning from the best in Los Angeles

Myeni is scheduled to fly to Los Angeles later in February to participate in a day of workshops, production training and networking with the entertainment industry at YouTube Space LA. 

He says: “I am eager to learn about what it takes to make the type of films that are on par with these industry giants. I am excited to pick their brains and learn from their blueprints. I am eager to learn the process of filmmaking from them, as this will enrich my own work.”

In a statement issued by the iamAFRICA project, PAFF states that they believe film and art can lead to a better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, and lifestyles, while at the same time serve as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our time.

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