Coming Soon: Stillborn | A Xhosa Sci-Fi Short Film
Yes, you read that right: Xhosa + Sci-Fi + Short Film. It’s pretty safe to say that the narrative of a futuristic isiXhosa robot in the throes of an existential crisis is relatively unchartered territory – and frankly, we’re hanging on the edge of our seats!
Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke selected a filmmaker from each BRICS nation (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), and commissioned them to create a short film for the second annual BRICS film festival in Chengdu China. South African Director Jahmil XT Qubeka was one of the chosen ones, and Stillborn was created.
Shot against the backdrop of Jozi, Stillborn explores a world 3000 years into the future, when humans are extinct. Written entirely in isiXhosa, the experimental spiel follows the narrative of a futuristic robot, obsessed with her human ancestry. Leading actress, Mandisa Nduna embodies the role of Nobomi: a genderless artificial intelligence labourer living in a dystopian society, who recovers artefacts from ancient life on Earth, leading to a series of questions and discoveries. The film explores themes of African science fiction, cultural identity, and the relationship between mankind and technology.
Director Jahmil XT Qubeka told TshisaLIVE that the film was born from his desire to fuse his Xhosa heritage with his love for sci-fi films. “I grew up watching sci-fi films and, of course, my heritage is Xhosa. If I reflect on Xhosa and African culture, there’s a lot of potential sci-fi elements that I could draw from,” Jahmil said.
The short film will make its local debut in 2018 at the South African showing of the BRICS Film Festival.
Want more? Read a conversation with leading actress Mandisa Nduna by Mail & Guardian here.