Trailer- Slaves of the Lake

I was at the Sheffield Doc Fest this past weekend and the trailer of my film played at the `World View’ pitching event. They had a brief Q&A session with me, where I got asked a very interesting question – a question that launched a bit of a debate on the ethics of documentary filmmakers, our drive for money and fame, and the whole issue of exploiting characters.

A Zimbabwean woman in the audience felt that many documentary filmmakers who film in Africa, are not giving back to the African community and accused us (all filmmakers in the audience and on the panel) of making these films just to gain a name for ourselves and earning loads of money. I think everyone on the panel felt personally committed to responding to that question/statement.

Brian Wood (famous for his documentary The Dying Rooms, among other works) was quick to dispel the idea that documentary makers get big money from these projects – or sometimes any money at all. He emphasised the fact that documentaries are born out of people’s passion for issues and films, rather than their hunger for money and fame. We all know that in documentary filmmaking, monetary gains are certainly not the driving force behind our hard work and perseverance. Jane Stephenson, executive producer at Media Trust and the executive producer on my film as well, made it a point to tell this lady in the audience that Media Trust didn’t make any money on this project, and that I (the filmmaker) had put in a lot of my own unpaid time into this project to make it work.

Sally-Ann from DFID – the organisation that gives funding for such ventures, also highlighted how in the UK there is a need to view more content from Africa and Asia and not just the US and the UK and that in the future, they would continue to fund more films from these two continents.

I, of course, was the last to answer and said that documentary making is a two way street. People will not agree to feature in your documentaries, unless they are gaining something from the process. In the case of my film Slaves of the Lake, the charity that I worked with, Challenging Heights, was really keen on the publicity. They need money, they need volunteers and they need people world over to know about them. This documentary will help them achieve all this.

Anyway, watch the documentary trailer that sparked the debate.

6 thoughts on “Trailer- Slaves of the Lake”

  1. e bravissima, S! what a fascinating piece of work. wishing you all the very best! I grew up for some time in West Africa (Lagos) and visited Ghana a few times – amazing doc youve made. would love to see it. x shayma

  2. Sheherzad – this is beautiful. im sure you have put a lot of time and effort into this and it shows.

    im not sure where / when you plan on releasing this… please keep me posted.

  3. Great work Sheherzad! A very touching subject beautifully & sensitively captured from your lens.
    Thanks for bringing this little known subject to the forefront. From our privileged vantage points, the rest of us ought to do more for the many who are born without any choices. Wish you every success for when the film is broadcast and for all future projects!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *