5 Minutes with Sylvia Vollenhoven

5 Minutes with Sylvia Vollenhoven

1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?

I am an author, journalist, filmmaker, playwright and Professor of Practice at the University of Johannesburg. I get bored very, very easily so I take on as many projects as possible. Then I do lots of deep breathing to get it all done. 

2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?

I’ve just started a co production with an Italian producer, Christian Nicoletta. We are doing a doc series of how people around the world are using soccer as an instrument for social transformation. Then my pitch for Buckingham Palace District Six (an adaptation of the Richard Rive novel) won a Jury Prize, Audience Award and 1st Prize at TIFF plus an award at DIFF as well. It all helped secure a Canadian Co Producer. We are now in development with plans to shoot in 2021.

3. What’s your best project/work to date?

I get equally excited and inspired by each and every story or project. So the one I am currently doing or have just completed is always the best for me. 

4. Who or what inspires you?

The way ordinary people cope with the tremendous odds stacked against them inspires me but some days it also makes me feel spoilt and ashamed. The way young people reshape the society they’ve inherited leaves me breathless. The sunshine in my garden on the wet leaves after the rain makes me want to invent a new language. 

5. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

Walking and doing absolutely nothing at all. Doing nothing is an art. I’ve been practicing for years to get it right. I think I’ve finally reached to the point where I manage for short spells to dwell in that vast expanse of nothing, beyond all the busyness.

6. Finally, what tips or advice could you give to other documentary creatives, just starting out or to the more experienced creatives needing a bit of encouragement?

Go in search of a better understanding of your creativity. It starts with doing nothing at all. Too many creative people are too busy doing, chasing, missioning…. Deep breathing and doing nothing helps you reconnect with the source of all creativity.

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