Ending the silence - Young film maker tells her story
MANDISA is a short film based on the real-life experiences of a girl who was raped but grows from victim to heroine.
Mandisa Madikane, 21, the maker of Mandisa, hails from Kliptown, one of the crime and poverty-ridden neighbourhoods of Soweto.
"We shot most of the film in Kliptown, an area full of shacks and violence where a young girl is never safe," she says.
Madikane is one of the youngest participants in the South African International Documentary Festival, dubbed Encounters and taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town until June 24.
Through her painful life experiences she found healing, inspiration and the need to share her story with the world.
"My film is about rape and breaking silence in young people who are afraid to speak about the abuse that happened to them," Madikane says.
Raped at the age of six and infected with HIV, Madikane began her motivational speaking at home with her family and friends.
She progressed to appearances on television programmes and print media publications where she disclosed her status at the age of 16. Writing poetry also formed part of her healing and acceptance.
Speaking about living with the virus, Madikane says: "People get shocked but that others take advantage. I believe in life nothing should be hidden, but never give others the power to bring you down. Always expect the unexpected because not everybody will like you."
Madikane is a member of Global Girl Media, an organisation dedicated to empowering girls aged 16 to 25 from underprivileged communities through media, leadership and journalistic training.
She has contributed to Kganya Motsha Adolescent Centre, which offers free, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services to reduce the rates of HIV among adolescents through education, prevention and treatment strategies.
The annual film festival, now in its seventh year, comprises the best documentary films from around the world. Festival director Mandisa Zitha says Encounters is about real-life situations.
"The festival covers everything from politics, culture, the environment to sex and food," she says. "We select any good documentary filmmaker who has made a film that is interesting, beautifully photographed and tells a fantastic story."
Only 50 films are chosen for the festival. This year, the line-up includes 22 local films.
Zitha says Al Jazeera is presenting their own selection of investigative stories. Film-makers will also get mentoring from field experts through master classes, panel discussions and presentations.
The documentaries can be seen in the evenings at selected movie houses in the two host cities. The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) is offering bursaries to student filmmakers and the documentary festival is an opportunity for students to get funding.
NFVF communications manager Naomi Mokhele says the bursaries are available for film or TV-related studies.
"Funding is available for those pursuing this field but who lack financial means," she says. They have awarded 560 bursaries since 2001.