SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: When filmmaker Molatelo Mainetje found out in 2006 that she could not fall pregnant naturally, her life purpose was unveiled. Earnestly exposing her condition and seeking a shift in the way society views women that are unable to bear children, she started creating Womb-Man, a feature length documentary about her struggle with infertility. “In a society where childlessness is stigmatised,’ Mainetje not only shares her maternal struggle but is determined to change the face of infertility and help woman who suffer her same fate.
“The film gives viewers deep insight into in vitro fertilisation (IVF), and is a striking balance between modernity and tradition,’ says Mainetje. “I was scared of what people may think of me for making this film. I had a booming career, and I knew by opening up about my condition, I was going to face a lot of name-calling and judgments. But I asked myself, if I don’t tell the story, who do I expect to display their dirty linen in public for me to make the film?’
Having attended the University of Limpopo in 1999 she was one of the first students to attend the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, an institution that aims to train people from disadvantaged communities in radio and television production. A successful career ensued where she worked in the industry throughout the years; in “soapies, business television, entertainment, news and current affairs, but nothing could fill my storytelling vacuum better than filmmaking.”
Having grown up in rural GaModjadji in Limpopo, and being the first girl in her village to go to university, to living in Johannesburg working at top media companies, in 2009 Mainetje started a filmmaking training project in Limpopo to train school-leavers in television production and filmmaking, which included films broadcast on e.tv, SABC and M-Net. Despite her career success, she says her childless state means, “I have no voice among the village women.’ This she hopes to change.
While Womb-Man gives voice to women who feel ashamed because they have not or cannot give birth, “it is also an educational tool for women young and old, rural or urban, local or international,’ she says.
Having personally funded the entire project since 2006 Mainetje says, “I realised for me to make a high impact film, I need to employ a crew and use better quality cameras. I personally funded the film to this day, shooting using outgoing generation cameras, sometimes doing the camera work myself, while producing and directing. Now, I need support.’
Her team have launched a crowdfunding campaign at Thunda Fund. Should the campaign be successful Womb-Man is expected to be released in 2017.