Look out Spike Lee. Get out of the way Steven Spielberg and thanks for showing up Martin Scorsese — there’s a new talent in town.
Up and coming filmmaker (and Grade 5 student) Trinity Dlamini saw her work — a four-minute docu-drama on the Viola Desmond story — awarded last Friday in Halifax by the judges of the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institutes’s 2017 African Nova Scotian History Challenges.
Dlamini said she learned she’d won when she overheard her mother on the phone with a representative of the competition.
“At first I didn’t know who my Mom was talking to but when I heard ‘I think she’ll be very excited’ I kind of perked my ears up,” she said. “I was very excited when I heard that because I worked very hard on that video.”
Given that the competition was open to Nova Scotian students of all ages, the news means that her film beat out works by junior or even high school students — which is a nice little bonus.
“Usually older kids are more experienced. It’s kind of nice to do better than them sometimes.”
Dlamini — who moved to Canada three years ago from South Africa — said that Desmond’s experience and the idea of segregation in Canada was a bit surprising to her.
“In a lot of books about slavery in the olden days it’s all like a big promised land and such, which it was to a lot of the slaves in America. But of course every place has its own flaws.”
Dlamini said she first tackled the Desmond story two years ago while in the third grade and decided it was a natural fit for the contest.
“A lot of people don’t know a lot about different black people that made a difference,” Dlamini said. “A lot of people don’t know their story, they just know their names.”
Dlamini said while she doesn’t have a figure or event in mind for her next picture, she can see herself returning to the annals of African heritage for inspiration.
“To bring those people out in film, I think that would be a fun experience,” she said.
Where much of her filmography to date has been Lego-based stop-motion short comedies for her YouTube channel ‘Bizarre Bricks’, this is live action and sees Dlamini playing the lead role of Viola Desmond, director and writer. Supporting roles, meanwhile, were filled with the finest acting talent her household had to offer.
Her directing style allowed room for the actors to freely interpret their characters and bring to the table whatever vocal delivery or motivations they felt were necessary to their performance.
“I wrote a script,” she said, “and I gave it to my family members and they had to come into my room and audition with the script until they got everything right.”
The script came together after a week’s worth of research, and the whole film took around three hours to shoot on her iPad. Foley work, soundtracking and editing took another two days.
Dlamini said she isn’t sure just yet what she will do with the prize money from the competition but indicated it may go towards… props… for her usual content.
“I’m very into Lego so I think that I might get a Lego set or save up for something even bigger,” she said.
Your move, James Cameron.
Filmmaker Trinity Dlamini of Pictou shows a scene from her award-winning short bio-pic about Viola Desmond. (Cameron photo)