The frequently and not so frequently asked questions.
Why did you make this film?
While studying in Lisbon at the Lusofona University I made friends from Sao Tome and Principe
I realized I had a unique opportunity to become a cultural bridge, and create an Estonian portrayal of Sao Tomé and Principe.
I was encouraged by the Estonian ambassador to Portugal – Mart Tarmak – who signed diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe.
At the same time I became curious about African cinema, as films by African directors such as Flora Gomes and Ousmane Sembène are often shown on the streets Lisbon, and at Portuguese film festivals.
I then created a website called Africa on YouTube that analyzed the content of YouTube videos that portray Portuguese-speaking African countries.
Through my media research, I recognized Africa is often shown as a primitive continent and Africans as primitive people, and my own experience was different – so I wanted to show my experience and point of view.
In Sao Tome, while looking for my protagonist, I recognized my own artistic aspirations in one painter, Alex-Keller, so he became my main character.
Santomean art is a reflection of the Santomean society. Through his paintings, Alex, and also other Santomean artists draw attention to social problems, such as the status of women in Santomean society, the status of children, and to the protection of environment. Alex’s main concern is to lessen the social divide between men and women, and the protection of children.
I invented the journey of interviewing artists as a narrative device, to understand all the artists’ reflection of the islands, and to give Alex a chance to meet all of them and work with me in front of the camera.
Why did you film this by yourself?
I didn’t have budget to pay travel for a full team, and I was unable to convince (for most of the time) people to work with me for free. I was able to pay for some help though both in Portugal and Sao Tomé, and many friends helped out.
Why did you make such an expensive film?
My connection to Sao Tome was personal and it had become part of my life. I was motivated to work on this project.
Why didn’t you complete the film by deadline?
Raising sufficient funds took time.
Why did you submit the film now?
Why not? I wanted to get your feedback. I also wanted to start a master’s program this fall, so I decided to take the risk of trying to finish it in due time.
How long have you been working on this?
1.5 years. I spent 3 months in Lisbon talking to art curators, painters, just normal Santomeans. I have met the majority of Santomean artists and talked to literally hundreds of Santomeans.
What have you learned from this process.
Making contacts. Fundraising. I found the whole experience very valuable. I really feel it’s the best thing I’ve done in my whole life.
What was the role of BFM in your development?
Inspiring professors Dirk Hoyer, Hagi Shein, James Thurlow, and inspiring quests such as James Tusty. Also, freedom to experiment with my ideas.
In one word, what is the new film about?
Were you able to make the film you wanted to make?
No. Not yet. I failed in many areas but gained immense experience. Nonethless, with preserverance, and with the help awesome I’m getting there. I believe in pushing one’s boundaries. I believe one has to take risks to be true to one’s vision. Then it’s worth it.
How did you fund the film?
How did you get into filmmaking?
Since I was a child people were always complementing my writing and my photographs. So filmmaking seemed like a natural combination of these talents.
At the same time I was heavily into computers and was able to earn money by developing websites for small companies. These funds acted as a subsidy for my artistic aspirations.
Are you happy with the film?
Yes and no. I put everything I have into it. Time, money, contacts, all my energy. Everything. But it obviously still needs a lot of work. So I’m trying to involve people from varied areas and various skill-sets to make the film better.
Why did you change the main character?
When I first went to Sao Tomé I started filming this aspiring fashion designer with big dreams, Ronny Key. By the time I was able to return to Sao Tome, Ronny Key had been able to go study design in Lisbon so he was no longer in Sao Tome. I knew Alex from the first time and was impressed with his work, so he seemed like a natural fit.