5 Minutes with… Omelga Mthiyane

5 Minutes with… Omelga Mthiyane

Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?
I am a storyteller, I have been making documentary film for the last 15 years. I am attracted to stories where there is potential for healing, where people take difficult journeys that might result in them finding closure. I found so much comfort behind the camera, which means I shoot most of my own documentaries. Beyond telling stories I am also a mother and a grandmother. 
 
What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?
I am currently working on a short documentary film called Umngcwabo which looks at how Covid-19 is affecting burial rituals. For the Nguni people, death is not the end, It’s the new beginning in the afterlife, but the ritual intricacies of the sendoff need to be observed correctly by the family of the deceased.
 
What’s your best project/work to date?
Ikhaya is a documentary film which I directed in 2004, which followed the journey of my Aunt as she went back to Bhambayi, a place she left as a result of political violent outburst close to the 1994 elections, leaving her and her family displaced. This was not just a physical journey but hope for her to find closure and healing. This project was great because as part of the making was also training from the Goethe Institute which introduced us to great filmmakers such as Jeniffer Fox who directed The Tale. The film was premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and went to about ten other international film festivals including the Berlin International Film festival.  
 
Who or what inspires you?
I am learning to be more present in the moment and I find nature presents small gifts that I never paid much attention to before and they bring me so much joy and inspiration. My granddaughter’s smile also completes and inspires me so much. 
 
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I enjoy nature so I try taking hiking trips as much as I can. I also draw so much inspiration from the serenity that nature offers. I love travelling to different places, experiencing and learning new things.
 
Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other documentary creatives, just starting out or to the most experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?
We are constantly surrounded by stories, we don’t have to go far in order to access these stories, start small if you can, using the resources around you and choosing the genre of film that you can create. More importantly be yourself, listen to your voice and create stories the best way suitable to you, you don’t have to impress anyone.

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