Tackling poaching through art

Baxu and the Giants rolls into production

25 January 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Baxu and the Giants, a film on how rhino poaching triggers social change in a village in Damaraland, will start its production in February. The story's authors, Girley Jazama and Florian Schott, chose to tell the story from the inside out through the eyes of an innocent but toughened-by-life eight-year-old girl who is deeply rooted in nature and her own heritage.

The film, which is being produced by Andrew Botelle, is aimed at sensitising teenagers to the issue of poaching in Namibia. Through this storytelling device, which spans the time between the age of hunters and gatherers to the present day, the film aims to reach an audience worldwide and for audiences to understand some of the underlying social issues in rural Namibia that can lead to poaching.

Schott, who worked on the award-winning and film Katutura, said Baxu (short for !Khubaxu, which means 'I come from the soil' in Damara) and the Giants is one of his most personal films he's worked on to date and he looks forward watching it roll out.

“It is the first time that I am trying to not only subtly highlight a social issue but make it the centre of the film.

I felt that the cause of poaching in rural Namibia is still under-represented so I pitched them the idea of creating an emotional story of a family, with a young girl that is deeply rooted in nature and heritage at its centre.

It has been a beautiful journey as very quickly we both fell in love with Baxu and the way that she sees the world and tells her story to the audience,” said Schott.

Schott, who directed Katutura five years ago, added that there is a lack of local films targeted for kids and teenagers and that Baxu and the Giants is made to fill that gap. He also said although the film is exciting there were certain challenges he encountered but it was all a learning experience.

“It is a simple, but beautiful and heart-breaking story and I put a lot of my own experiences in having a Damara family in the script. It is set in rural Namibia, the protagonist is an eight-year-old girl and part of the film is in a language that I don't speak - but I'm super excited to make this film a reality,” he concluded.

Filming will begin in February 2019 and the film is expected to have its world premiere in Namibia in August 2019.

June Shimuoshili