The Centre: Focussing on women’s challenges
Windhoek – ‘The Centre – What to do with the silence’ is the title of the recent film by Namibian Germany-based writer and director Naomi Beukes-Meyer.
The webisode series, according to Beukes-Meyer, was produced to create awareness about challenges and experiences in the daily lives of African women, those staying in rural areas in different countries and mostly those residing in Europe.
“Women in Europe find it difficult to get by in the state of being economically disadvantaged, suppressed and just not being recognized as able citizens who can make decisions solely without being intimidated by those who are originally from Europe,” she said in interview.
In the film, Beukes-Meyer draws mainly from her childhood and upbringing in Rehoboth, a small town south of the capital Windhoek. The latest series of “The Centre” were recently filmed at the town from November 3-6. Other series were shot in Berlin, Germany.
The story also includes the form of missionary help that Africa had been accustomed to when a nurse from Europe came to Rehoboth and tried to assist the local people by treating them of various ailments, and counselling them, played by Birgit Stuaber, who is originally from Austria but resides in Germany as a television actress.
The cast is all Namibian, with one actress from Germany. There are characters like Josef, a community leader that enforces child labour, including young girls and selfishly spends all the aid from abroad for his own personal endeavours instead of using the assistance for the intended purpose – to develop the village.
Beukes-Meyer features in the film as the abused wife of Josef and on her side she had a leader of a church choir, who was her only confidante and saviour from the abusive husband, played by veteran actor, David Ndjavera.
Two learners from a Windhoek primary school got the opportunity to hone their acting skills. These are Damio De Klerk (Grade 6) and Ashanti Beukes (Grade 5).
“All in all, this film was made to campaign against gender-based violence in all forms such as physically, emotionally and psychologically especially those who found themselves married and living abroad in a European states,” Beukes-Meyer said.
Beukes-Meyer is well known in the Namibian film industry for her acting prowess before relocating to Germany. She has also worked for National Theatre of Namibia as a stage manager, where she started writing.
In a 2013 interview with online blog, African Women in Cinema, Beukes-Meyer spoke about her love for writing, especially “about what happened to the women and girls around me, especially the stories that no one talked about.
“While working at the theatre, I wrote and directed some children’s plays. Currently, I’m still writing and developing plays with children at the school where I’m teaching in Berlin.
“Through my work as a teacher at a bilingual school in Berlin, I come across people from all corners of the world. It intrigued me what the big pull to Berlin is, so I started asking questions and ended up with a lot of, sometimes interesting, sometimes heart-breaking stories.”
“The Centre” will feature at the Berlin film festival in February 2015 and hopefully it would be featured again at the Namibian Film Festival.