Documentary Set In Tanzania Premieres Locally

May 30, 2014

A documentary film set in Tanzania will premiere locally for a week-long run. The film’s participants are fundraising to make treatment for malaria more accessible. That effort includes using some of the proceeds from screenings of the movie.

In 2010, two friends who met at the University of Miami planned to go on a two-month trip to Tanzania. Filmmaker Sylvia Caminer met them through a mutual acquaintance and joined them with a two-man camera crew to chronicle their experience that became the documentary “Tanzania: A Journey Within”. The film is being distributed by Heretic Films, a film production company based in Pensacola. Venance Ndibalema is one of the film’s subjects.

“In the movie, I was trying to go with my friend I met at the University of Miami, to go to Tanzania so she could go experience a different culture, just like the way I experienced American culture when I came here. Later, they decided for that to be a documentary but initially it was not,” Ndibalema said.

For American Kristen Kenney, it was her first trip to a developing country. For Venance Ndibalema, it was a return home after having no contact with his family since he came to the United States to study physics in 2001.

“Where I grew up, I lived in a village not far from Uganda, and then I moved to the city for school, where my mother moved to,” Ndibalema said. “The necessities, for example, electricity, there was no electricity, not much clean water. The basic necessities were kind of not there very often.”

Ndibalema said there have been technological improvements in the country since he left and that improved education would help, but resources continue to be scarce.

“They’re doing what they can. The issues, again, become resources. There’s not enough teachers. The high school I went [to], we didn’t have much teachers, to the point where some subjects, there’s no teacher to teach. Human resources and books, for example. Tutors. I think resources are still very scarce.”

The trip began in Dar El Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. The party continues through the countryside visiting villages along the way to Mt. Kilimanjaro, where they spend a week climbing. Sylvia Caminer is director and producer of the film.

“We went on safari, so we went to the Serengeti,” Caminer said. “And then we visited Muanza, it’s not as busy as Dar. It’s one of the places that Ven grew up. We took him back through the footsteps of his life. We went to a beautiful place called Bukoba and then we went to his village where he grew up as a child.”

Ndibalema’s friend Kristen Kenney contracted malaria toward the end of the trip.

“Because of the experience of making the film and going through malaria, she started a charity, and today she has raised money and saved over 22,000 lives by providing this life-saving medicine in Tanzania for those who couldn’t afford it,” Caminer said.

The charity, Malaika for Life, sold handmade bracelets created by Tanzanian women. It teamed up with Malaria No More, a nonprofit organization that aims to end death caused by malaria in Africa by 2015. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward malaria treatment.

“Each ticket will literally save one child’s life,” Caminer said. “A child in Africa under the age of five will get a test first, to make sure that they have malaria and then they will get a full dose of treatment.”

“Tanzania: A Journey Within” will run through June 5 at Movies 4 Gulf Breeze.

Katya Ivanov, WUWF News