Care and treatment centres were established across Tanzania as part of the push towards the realisation of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. These centres were established to provide clinics to distribute antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS, counselling and support, and services for mothers and babies. Given these two key services they are the perfect place for us to find potential participants in the film. We have one potential woman for our lead (see earlier post Lost in Translation) but we are keen to cast someone who is HIV positive. Having already met with 78 women we decided the only thing for it was to sit in the CTC on a clinic day and meet more women and see who looked the part. This may sound brutal, we have met many beautiful women but not all of which translate to screen. Our search therefore continues.
The CTC in Bagamoyo is your typical clinic. People have their names called out to check they’re present, they then get weighed, they then wait to see the Doctor and are then given their ARVs. We chatted to several women while they waited but these women were slightly different than the more rural women we met in Miono and Mbwewe. Most of the women in Bagamoyo didn’t work, and were much more ‘mzungu’ savvy, having been used to a parade of NGOs passing through the town promising various things. We pointed out we weren’t there to finance a project, just to listen, and perhaps not unreasonably, only a few were uninterested. It felt that this was going to be a slow Monday; our interpreter Ansity had called in sick, we managed to recruit Anna – a Swahili teacher enjoying the school holiday – at the last minute, but all in all the day appeared a step back.
We decamped for an iced coffee (a new addiction) via a busy antenatal clinic run by a retired midwife to meet more women and entertain babies with my earrings, and decided to re-plan, again. Coffee saves everything. It led to our best two ideas all day: one we should make a film about making the film – this will ensure that if our lead becomes overwhelmed and drops out midway through (which she would be able to do – see university research ethics 101) we can edit a film about the difficulty of making a film; and two why don’t we call Nkwabi from TaSUBa to see what he thinks about taking on one of the film roles.
Nkwabi is a retired teacher, professional mime and all round general raconteur. We met with him and our now healthy Ansity and ran through the story – they approved and offered more feedback – but then we got to my favourite part of the day – the audition/screen-test. Ansity stepped in as our lead, I did my best holding the sound recorder (while taking the pic of this blog – check my talent! And my hand in the picture), and Leanne directed, obviously. The result of which was our first casting – Nkwabi as the yet to be named first bad man, or baba X.
A couple of hours with Nkwabi lifted our mood, Ansity is now considering ditching the law and becoming an actress, and at the end of the day the Tanzania Film Board approved our application and said I could now pay for my permit! Woop! Of course this means I have to transfer the cash from my own bank account, so friends and family consider your Christmas presents this year an investment in my film production future.