17 August 2021 | Story Dikgapane Makhetha | Photo Supplied
Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele (Director: Community Engagement), Napo Masheane (lead actress), and Troy Myeni (Director)

A short fiction film that was shot in Botshabelo and on the Bloemfontein Campus of the UFS, has once again shown the endless possibilities of engaged scholarship in the creative arts.

For this film project, engaged scholarship meant working with graduates / current students from the UFS on projects with a relevant and impactful theme for the broader community. The project was aimed at giving current or past students the opportunity to gain experience or share experience and to transfer skills in the area of filmmaking. 

The short fiction film, Leshano (The Lie), was directed by Mpendulo ‘Troy’ Myeni, a graduate of the UFS Film Programme, who also won an award at the Pan African Film Festival in the US for another of his short films.  Troy was also one of the three co-producers, along with Anton Fisher (a former employee of the UFS), who wrote the script, and Moeketsi Mphunye, a young filmmaker from Botshabelo.
Another notable UFS graduate who was central to the production, is Mbuyiselo Nqodi. He graduated with a BA in Drama and Theatre Arts and has since gone on to make a huge contribution to the performing arts in the Free State and South Africa. Mbuyiselo was the first assistant director of Leshano (The Lie) and had the unenviable job of keeping everything moving on set.  Other members of the production registered at the UFS, but never completed their studies. 

Bishop Billyboy Ramahlele, Director of Community Engagement at the UFS, said he was proud that the UFS could be part of this filmmaking project by making offices available as locations for the film and through the participation of distinguished graduates in key positions of the production.

“The UFS has much to offer young people as students, but also as graduates who seek to advance in their chosen careers. Through community engagement, these young people, whether students or graduates, can be inspired by working with professionals in various fields and gaining hands-on experience. They can then plough back into the community and the UFS.”

“This is the virtuous cycle of community engagement at a university. Students gain knowledge, then they gain inspiration and experience, and plough back into the UFS and broader community, instilling hope for future generations,” Bishop Ramahlele said. 

He added that the UFS would be mentioned in the credits of the film and in publicity and marketing of the film, profiling its reputation as a centre of creative excellence.

Leshano (The Lie) was filmed in Sesotho, with English subtitles, and deals with the important issue of corruption. The lead role is played by the acclaimed Napo Masheane who grew up in Qwaqwa, supported by well-known Free State actors Maria de Koker, Seipati Mpotoane, Ntsiki Ndzume, Vincent Tsoametsi, Pesa Pheko, and Shayne Nketsi. 

Several young, aspiring filmmakers from across the Free State were recruited for the project. It was their first time on the set of a film production, whether as make-up artists, behind the scenes photographers, unit production managers, wardrobe assistants, or location scouts. 

With a strong line-up of women in the lead roles, the film will be released later in August during Women’s Month. 

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