Akin Omotoso’s Pan-African silent film A Hotel Called Memory , which stars South African actresses Mmabatho Montsho and Nomzamo Mbatha, won over audiences in America, taking home the Audience Award for Favourite Experimental Film at the 6th Annual Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia‚ America recently.
The “tone poem” film made its world premiere at the same film festival and tells the story of a woman, who after separating from her husband in Lagos‚ Nigeria seeks solace in Zanzibar‚ hoping to forget her turbulent past.
Speaking to TshisaLIVE, Mmabatho said that she was humbled by audience reaction to the film.
“To shoot any film like this is amazing and gratifying as an actress, but to have people respond so well to the film is just humbling. I loved working on the project and with so many other talented people. I guess that passion came through,” she said.
Mmabatho said that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what it was that won over audiences but suggested that it may have been the film’s authenticity.
“What I loved about the film was that it was so unique and gave expression in a whole new way. When you love something as much as Akin does, it shines through and audiences pick up on that energy and the emotions of the film,” she said.
The project was filmed in Lagos‚ Zanzibar and Cape Town‚ and sees Nomzamo and Mmabatho play key roles in the film. Mbatho plays the role of a woman who is involved with the main character.
She explained that preparing for a silent film was not much different to preparing for a role on any other film.
“When I read the script I knew that I wanted to be part of the film, which meant that I started preparing from that moment. The interesting thing is, I didn’t prepare for it in a different way. It was just reading the emotion of the scene and giving it my all. The only difference was that I wasn’t speaking with my mouth. It was more like my heart was speaking. It was beautiful,” she said.
A Hotel Called Memory will be released in a number of African countries next year, including both Nigeria and South Africa.