5 MINUTES WITH… WEAAM WILLIAMS
My name is Weaam Williams, I am a screenwriter and director.
1. Tell us about yourself – who are you and what do you do?
I was once a performance poet and hip-hop MC aka MC Desert Blossom. This is really before I became a filmmaker hence my directorial debut Hip Hop Revolution.
2. What are you currently up to? Are there any exciting projects ongoing?
I am currently in production for a fiction short film called Two Hues – for which I wrote the screenplay in 2016. I also have another documentary project in the pipeline titled The Rise, which showcased at Doc Corner in Cannes earlier this year. I am very excited about Two Hues – because of the story – however, am not at liberty to say more.
3. What’s your best project/work to date?
My best project to date: that’s a difficult question. Hip Hop Revolution is special to me because it’s my first film, I was eight months pregnant with my first child when we shot it, and sat in post-production, breastfeeding my baby and editing simultaneously. It had achieved global success, and I think it was a good spring-board for me as a first time director. However, we also have to contend with a glass ceiling in SA. If I were to evaluate which project I had poured the most of myself into, it would definitely be District Six Rising from the Dust.
The film is an autobiographical one, which documents my return to ancestral-land where my family was forcibly removed from. It was an emotionally taxing journey, which presented me with many dangerous situations culminating in an incident towards the end of last year. I remember the film was screening at CTIFM 2018 and my personal life was in turmoil at the time – I continued to document this journey. It took many months for me to process and deal with this incident, and I finalized the edit in August 2019. It will screen at the Knysna Film Festival for the first time.
4. Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by very many people… However, if I were to point at more famous people, it would definitely be Nadine Labaki. I was profoundly moved by her film Where Do We Go Now, with her ability as a writer/actress and director and have been following her career since. She is an amazing story-teller and shows great empathy in her work. Bjork definitely as an artist, her ability to remain relevant and intriguing for 3 decades. And then of-course in SA I have had some pretty amazing women mentors politically. The late Suraya Abas (co- founder of Molo Songololo) and Shirley Gunn both, have assisted me with a political understanding as well as enabling me on my path as a filmmaker.
5. When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I practise yoga, swim and go for walks in the mountain.
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?
To emerging filmmakers I would say don’t be generic and prescriptive. Stay true to your voice but also have balance as you will have to work on commercial projects sometimes. To established filmmakers who are having a rough time, we all have rough times but we get through them. Tenacity, passion and belief is my alchemy.