Baxu, The White Line soar at AAFAA

Film director tells all

03 December 2020 | Art and Entertainment

Desiree Kahikopo; The White Line, director; “I think people have come to realise that this is something different...”

Swakopmund • [email protected]


Acclaimed Namibian films The White Line and Baxu & The Giants keep raking in awards.

Both films have been nominated for Africa Film Academy Awards (AFAA).

Baxu & The Giants, Namibia’s first film on Netflix, is nominated for an AFAA for best short film. This 30-minute film deals with rhino poaching seen through the eyes of young Baxu, who communicates with rhinos in her dreams.

The White Line, directed by Desiree Kahikopo, bagged five nominations including best film in an African language, best achievement in a screenplay and best lead actress for Girley Jazama.

Jazama nabbed two Sotigui awards earlier this year including Southern African actor of the year.

According to Kahikopo, before the accolades started pouring in, there was a financial drought for The White Line.

“We really struggled with funding. We approached every company and commission we could think of, but nobody would budge. There were a few who told us that they would have given us the funding but they did not want to be involved with our subject matter,” she says.

The team then revamped their approach to funding and decided to produce a short trailer for the film before tackling the entire film.

“We were able to show people a bit of our vision so they could understand through the trailer what we were trying to create. It was a great way to test the market.”

The trailer garnered mixed responses from the public with stark criticism.

“I spoke with one of the actresses for the film and I told her to be ready for some backlash. This is a controversial topic and her character too, is controversial. I think we knew it was going to be challenging but I don’t think you know how challenging something like this will be until you are going through with it,” Kahikopo says.

With the release of the full-length film, the criticism fizzled out.

“People have come to realise that this is something different – a daring difference.”

Change of plans

Kahikopo says that the final version of The White Line is different from the narrative she had created. However, she welcomes the changes.

The White Line centres around a white policeman, Pieter de Witt (Jan-Barend Scheepers), and a black woman, Sylvia Kamutjemo (Girley Jazama), who fall in love during Namibia’s apartheid regime.

Originally, the film would pivot around an unfortunate incident of rape. Kamutjemo becomes pregnant after De Witt forces himself on her and both parties would have to deal with the ramifications of this in a Namibia under apartheid law.

Kahikopo says that the final version of The White Line – where the main characters fall in love – is more novel than the original version she had planned, but that it works perfectly.

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