Director Biography: Neha is a writer and director from Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art from Loughborough University, UK. Her previous works include 8 short films which have won awards and have screened at festivals around the world.
Her short film ‘Tinkerbell, dance’ was screened at The Smalls in London (2006). ‘Love Sweet Sound’ won the Docubox Short film Pitch in 2018. Her short film ‘FACE MASK for Sale’ won the Ladima Foundation competition and has been showcased in South Africa and parts of UK.
Neha’s stories revolve around challenging social constructs and bringing awareness to the audience through film. She believes that film is a powerful tool and is able to reach a wider audience. Through film she is able to alter perceptions and create a change that is very much needed in this world.
My theme is children, mothers and mental health. The children were the first ones to get affected as they were quickly taken out of schools. They were so confused - home means holiday. Many parents were having a challenge to explain that they are schooling from home and they were not on a school break. The first time I heard this, I was amused. Then when I spoke to friends and colleagues who are parents, this was a recurring challenge.
The restrictions started affecting the children which played a domino effect on the mothers. The single mothers had the toughest time as they were the bread earners and carers. Many mothers were so busy looking after their children’s mental health that they completely disregarded their own.
Our government doesn’t prioritize or acknowledge carers and this was a minor concern. I decided to take a stand for the mothers, for the women during this time and address that their mental health is greatly affected.
The film takes a journey as we see the young single mother-to-be move from feelings of hope to being scared and in despair to finally ending in bleak acceptance of the situation she is in. I want to highlight the frustration, fears, concerns and lastly suffocation.
The film is a poetic narrative using two layers within the film. First is the spoken word, to express her emotions and the situation in which she finds herself. Secondly, the words by the use of a drawing that she is creating to illustrate her changing mental state as she alters during the course of the film from using soft, long strokes to using frantic, harsh movements as the days become progressively more weary.
This is the first time I have made a film about a current issue. It became a doorway to get out of the pandemic rut - a mental state I was in. I needed a new focus that was beyond me, I needed to voice my feelings and thoughts and film, this film became the perfect tool to do so.
I was very much focused in the moment then. Now that I look back, I’m glad I got up and made this film, I didn’t realise how much of a mark this pandemic has left on the world, and how this film is a record of what we all felt and what we did.
Producer: Neha Manoj Shah
Writer: Neha Manoj Shah
Cast: Kavochy, Nicole Agneta