I am currently working on a collaborative arts project with a filmmaker who works here for the UN, named Jason. This past weekend was QUITE an adventure as we embarked on the filming for our project. It’s titled “Scenes of Arusha” and stems from an idea I had originally featuring only instruments. Seeing Jason as a good friend and great filmmaker, however, we set to work on our collaboration. The three musical (and now also visual!) “Scenes” that we will paint are “Ngaramtoni: Where the Birds Meet to Talk,” “Mount Meru,” and “The Daladala.” We went out to Ngaramtoni on Saturday. This is where I used to work with Umoja Ensemble every Friday. It’s beautiful, offers an incredible view of Mt. Meru, the Tanzanian surrounding hills, and constantly fluttering birds. Here are just a few photos I snapped while we were filming.
|As soon as we arrived, we were met by a number of kids from the village|
|Just look at the sass on these girls!|
|my shadow, mount meru|
|It became a beautiful evening, made even more so by the full moon|
|Jason capturing some of the kids|
|We filmed till sunset|
The most exciting part of the weekend took place on Sunday morning and early afternoon. My dear friend Jimmy was able to help us coordinate the rental of a daladala, the kind of minivan used for public transportation here, for our personal filming. Originally, I thought it would be enough to film just from the perspective of inside the daladala looking out, but curiosity got the better of us and we decided to run it as a functional daladala for one round trip. We gave everyone a free ride if they agreed to be filmed. It was a whole new level of feeling mzungu, as Jason and I sat there in the front looking back at everyone with Jason’s big camera propped up on its tripod. Everyone was a great sport, though, and we got some fantastic footage! The most exciting moment, however, came at the very end when the “conda” (the person who collects money and works to get customers onboard the daladala) suddenly came alive as a fabulous actor. It was as soon as we had finished our round and the daladala was empty as we headed back to my house for our drop-off. Out of nowhere, the conda started sounding and banging on the daladala, just as they do in real life when they’re trying to get a customer. He was shouting out the window “wait wait!! Sister, common. Get on the bus!” but when I looked back out at the street, there was no one there at all! He was simply acting. We got such vibrant footage and while this was acting, it was pretty much exactly what I see take place every day on my ride to work. The best shot in the whole film was when Jason put himself and the camera out of the window to show the conda who was also, as they always do, hanging halfway out the daladala through a big window in the door. Some men were walking by on the street but as we drove by, the conda shouted out a colorful greeting and happily fist-bumped one of the guys walking by. Pretty sure he didn’t know them, but they acted as though they were friends for one quick moment. Oh, we were super excited about the capturing of that moment. It really got the unexpected excitement that is this city.
|Setting up the camera from the front|
|Jimmy on the left, and our conductor- with his awesome red scarf- on the right|
|For the ride back to town, we repositioned to the back of the bus. There was a beautiful girl looking back at us|
After all that, we spent the evening up at a friend’s house, located very close to Mt. Meru. It offers a spectacular view of the mountain and looks down on all of Arusha. Unfortunately, it was very dusty that day and we didn’t get the best shots, but Jason’s thinking of going back to get more soon.
Was a busy weekend and we were tired at the end of it all, but I have no doubt it will be SO worth it when the projects all done!