“Let us roam with the stars, because they dance around us” this is the start to Nefro Poetess – Episode 1; Guide Me Home. Nefro Poetess is a three-part web-series by filmmaker Amahle Mtengenya and poet Fezeka Mkhabela (starring Bongani Zulu) —the pair makes use of narrative film to create a vision and bring forth an authentic voice to issues of love, loss, pain and redemption, in a way that is complex. Piece by piece the story unfolds —with Mkhabela’s voice tracking the journey.
Across the world, women not only face oppression but have become the face of that oppression, Nefro Poetess takes this notion, twists and turns it until it is limp. With a strong woman lead, it reaches deep inside and taps into personal feelings and a state of being —combining the art of filmmaking and spoken poetry into a single language.
“Poetry is becoming obsolete in the digital age. With this series, we wanted to bring our imagination around poetry to the screen. Creating an awareness around this language” explains Mtengenya.
Roses, soft pallets, face-painting and ethereal, suspenseful music grace the screen ushering in new voices through independent storytelling. The slight changes in gradient influence the elements that make Nefro Poetess a powerful piece, it is multivalent and highly emotive. An oral and visual experience transporting the viewer into a tense reality.
Mtengenya and Mkhabela are film students at the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) and Zulu studies architecture at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). The work was born following a film-school research project and a strong friendship between the three —anchored by a deep desire to “create things that people can relate to”. They hope to expand on the ideas of visual poetry and online cinema by extending the web-series. Their shared objective is to use these mediums to tell more authentic, personal stories.
This beautiful treasure box of a web-series persuades, informs and connects through its slow pace and relatable nature. Part one; ‘Guide Me Home’ is a poem about love; the second part; ‘Painkiller’ expresses pain and loss, while the third; ‘Third Eye Queen’ is redemptive. “Live in truth because you know a black queen never truly dies” – hails Mkhabela…… a resurrection.
Through this project, language becomes its own topography used to create a space for reflection. Beauty, fragility and authenticity combine to create an indispensable memory.