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Meet the judges: Rethabile Molatela Mothobi

Fresh from having her lateste film, Vaya, screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Rethabile Molatela Mothobi shares her thoughts on the future of South Africa’s art and design industry.


Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a film producer who started her career in theatre. I’ve always had a passion for telling stories and hearing stories.

Did you study formally, and if so, how did this inform your future career?

I obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dramatic Arts from University of the Witwatersrand where I majored in performance and directing. The following year I took extra courses in my other areas of interest, mainly Screenwriting and Performance Arts Management. I went on to work for the university while pursuing my own theatrical endeavours on the side. Thereafter, I went on to study at Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking. My training has aided me in my career as both a theatremaker and filmmaker. I understand the process of creation holistically, having had experience in almost all of the departments that make up a film.

What motivated you to become a judge for the PPC Imaginarium Awards?

I am passionate about teaching and knowledge-sharing. The PPC Imaginarium Awards is a great platform that not only gives young filmmakers the financial opportunity to make a film, but takes the process further by providing  support in the form of mentorship during the process. With that in mind my decision to join the judging panel was easy.

What key aspects will you be looking at when judging contestants’ work?

Many, but to name a few:

  • Are they pitching a story or an issue?

  • The story premise: Does it draw the viewer in?
  • Can the contestant tell the story in a clear and concise manner?
  • Given budget constraints, is the story/concept feasible?
  • The production team: Are they competent for the task at hand?

What are your thoughts on art and design in South Africa and Africa as a whole?

We are living in an exciting time. I’m far from an expert on this area, however, to me, it feels as if artists are exploring and experimenting and expressing themselves freely and without boundary in new and exciting ways. Furthermore, design and art are no longer confined to galleries or to the well-off. Things have shifted. Art and design have become more accesible to the everyday man. I love how everyday objects have been re-imagined in the world of art and design. Events such as First Thursdays and the opening of places like Keyes Art Mile provide a space for design and art to be showcased in their many forms, be it a static statue or a wearable piece of design. Unbeknown to some, our art and artists travel the world and are welcomed with open arms, and so it should be.

What do you think about the future of art and design in South Africa?

As a country and continent we have much to say and much to correct in the way we have been portrayed over the years. We’ve only just scratched the surface of telling our own stories in whatever manner we see fit. Again, I say it’s an exciting time.

What advice would you give young and up-and-coming designers and artists?

Hone your craft. Find your voice. Stay teachable, you don’t know it all. Keep exploring. Keep experimenting. Fail and fail and fail again knowing that each failure is bringing you closer to your success. Most importantly, be clear about what your vision is, protect it and safe guard it. In the muck and mire of life, that is what can keep you going when all you feel like doing is quitting.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Premiering my latest film Vaya at the Toronto International Film Festival. God willing there will be more highlights to come.

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