Mitchell’s Plain High in finals of high school film contest

Eight, grade 9 pupils from Mitchell’s Plain High School made it to the finals with their movie called Too Bright to Shine. Standing, from left, are Saarrah Carr, Skyler Donough, Xia Maggot, Jade Cyster, Tasneem Stoffberg, and in front, from left, are Keasha Loggenberg, Jodie Van Niekerk, teacher Aqeelah Petersen-Charles, Logan Davids and teacher Anastasia Snyman. Not pictured is pupil Taariq Taliep.

Mitchell’s Plain High School has made it to the finals of Filmit, a high school movie competition.

Eight Grade 9 pupils produced a movie called Too Bright to Shine, a drama which conveys messages about friendship, combating bullying and issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual) community.

Jan-Hendrik Opperman, project lead of Filmit said they announced 19 of the 20 finalists who completed their movies and successfully submitted them. The schools stand a chance to win prizes to the value of R100 000.

The judges were Bradley Joshua from Gambit Films, Louis Pretorius and Albert Snyman from Infinity Films, Zandré Coetzer and Scharl Van Der Merwe from Nagvlug Films, composer Braam du Toit and the owners of Annie’s Wardrobe.

Their movie was nominated for the Best Ensemble and Logan Davids, 15, one of their pupils, got a best actress nomination The winners of the competition, which started in March, will be announced on Friday December 10.

Teacher, Anastasia Snyman entered the Grade 8 and Grade 9 drama group into the competition. Their school has drama and visual arts subjects that encourage the arts, she said.

Another teacher, Aqeelah Petersen-Charles, who did the editing and sound, said both groups had to submit a trailer of five minutes to make it into the competition. The Grade 9 group made it through to compete against other schools, such as Rondebosch Boys’ High, Paul Roos Gymnasium, Curro Durbanville, St George’s Diocesan School, and Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool, to name a few.

Their movie made nominations for the Best Ensemble and Logan Davids, 15, one of their pupils, was nominated for best actress. The winners will be announced on Friday December 10.

In October they submitted their movie, which is just over 10 minutes long and made it to the finals of the competition.

Too Bright to Shine is about Yoon, played by pupil Xia Maggot, 16, who has started at a new school and is being bullied by another girl Mckenzie, played by Logan, because Yoon has more followers on Tiktok than she does.

Yoon and Mckenzie later discover they can relate to each other, find friendship in one another and speak to issues of their sexuality, said director, producer and pupil, Taariq Taliep, 15.

The eight pupils wrote the movie together. “We made use of what we had,” he said. They dedicated the movie to the fellow pupil and team member Chloe Mouers, 15, who passed away, during the filming of the movie, he said.

The team dedicated the movie to Chloe Mouers, 15, who passed away, during the filming of the movie.

Logan said: “Being part of the movie was a great feeling. It brought back memories of Chloe when she was still with us during filming. We will cherish those memories.”

A lot of work went into making the movie a success, said Ms Snyman, adding that it had taken them two months to shoot the movie.

“Covid-19 has halted some of our filming as well as examinations, and pupils transporting themselves to school but we pushed through it and made it work with the time we had,” she said.

Pupil Keasha Loggenberg, 15, said it had been great getting to know each other throughout the filming of the movie.

“We got to experience what it was like being in this movie and also what we want to be when we leave school. We were always encouraged by Ms Snyman and Ms Petersen-Charles. We need to make these sacrifices with what we want to do for our dreams,” she said.

Jodie Van Niekerk said the experience had opened doors for them. “We believe this is just the beginning, we believe in ourselves.”

Jade Cyster, 15, said they had become like family, while Tasneem Stoffberg, 16, said it had been exciting to be part of a real movie.

Ms Snyman said the group was dedicated. “It was amazing to see their determination to do this film. The maturity level was high and each of the pupils rose to the occasion. Myself and Ms Petersen-Charles are so proud of each and every cast member showing up and showing interest. It wasn’t easy at times but it was worth all the effort,” she said.

Xia said making the movie had inspired her to pursue acting as a career. “This experience has shown us all how to prepare for life, our dreams and gain experience. I was anti-social but this has brought me out of my comfort zone. We grew even closer as a team,” she said.

Principal of Mitchell’s Plain High School, Ansar Floris, said he was proud of the pupils’ achievement so far.

“It is the first entry of our drama students in the short history of our school and it is amazing. I applaud the pupils for their fantastic efforts. More importantly, I salute Ms Snyman and Ms Petersen-Charles for their sacrifices and unwavering support to our pupils,” he said.

“Thank you to all the schools for showing interest in Filmit and sharing your stories and passion for filmmaking with the whole of South Africa. All short films can be viewed on the Paul Roos Gymnasium YouTube Channel. Go and like your favourite movies and show your support,” said Mr Opperman.

The public vote, which closed on Friday November 5, counts 10% of the overall judging process, Mr Opperman added.