Coming of Age is a film set in the mountains of Lesotho, where a young shepherd
and the daughter of a chief are entering the summer before their adulthood.
Though living in the same small village, the two lead very different lives and will
make very different choices while grappling with the universal pains that plague
teenagers anywhere in the world.
This is what made the film a good fit for the Generation 14+ section of the Berlinale
Film Festival, a part of the festival dedicated to children and teenagers. Aside from
being one of the most well attended sections of the festival, it also offers an
opportunity for young international audiences and filmmakers to discuss issues
expressed in the films as well as share in different perspectives and ideas. The
festival ran from 5 to 15 February 2015.
Producer Don Edkins of STEPS productions and his son Teboho Edkins, who is also
the film’s director, travelled to Berlinale to attend the screening with the film’s two
main subjects; Lefa Letsie and Senate Mosothoane.
Don comments, “The premiere was truly amazing; it was in a very large cinema
with 1 200 seats, which were mostly full. The atmosphere and the response from
the audience was incredible, it was such a great screening. The audience at
Berlinale responds so well to films, they are interested and ask questions and
generate discussions. It was a very rewarding experience.’
Coming of Age was shot between July 2012 and February 2014, requiring Teboho to
make trips back and forth to South Africa from his home in Berlin. “I submitted the
film in no particular category but the Generations organiser Maryanne Redpath
decided she really wanted it because she felt it would resonate with young people,’
explains Teboho. “She said it would fit well in the programme and that it would
have more of a presence there as it was the only documentary.’
Following the screening, the team participated in a Q&A session, where international
audiences were intrigued about the role of women portrayed in the film, which
features a female village chief and girls who receive an education, while the boys
choose to remain herders.
In addition, Don added that the audience appreciated the film’s new kind of African
narrative and says, “They enjoyed that it was a film which showed another story or
side of Africa. It’s a very normal narrative and normal life being portrayed. It’s not
a story about some disaster or heavy subject; it’s just a film about normal
teenagers growing up in a small village.’
According to Teboho, this was exactly his intention. “I wanted to let the poetry of
the everyday show in my filming with them,’ he explained, ‘that was imp for me,
to make a film which looks at their life without dramatising anything. I could have
edited it in a way to push a narrative more but I didn’t. I tried to make a film where
I’m just with them in this landscape, in this pre-adulthood time of their lives’.
– Carly Barnes