The Source Magazine spoke with director Frances Bodomo whose short film “Afronauts” will screen at the Walter Reade Theater tomorrow at March 23 at 1:15 PM as a part of the New Directors/New Films Festival hosted by Film Society Lincoln Center and MoMA.
It’s July 16, 1969: America is preparing to launch Apollo 11. Thousands of miles away, the Zambia Space Academy hopes to beat America to the moon in this film inspired by true events.
Check out our exclusive interview with Frances below:
Tell me about the project that you’re screening at New Directors.
So I wrote and directed a short film called “Afronauts,” It’s about the Zambia Space Academy. They tried to join the space race in the 1960s even though they didn’t have the resources to do so. We followed a 17 year old teenage Afronaut who is deciding if she wants to get into that rocket and maybe die to keep her family’s beliefs alive or not do that.
Tell me more about the Zambia Space Academy.
Basically this guy in the 60s, when Zambia became independent, decided that he wanted to be a new nation that had everything that the first world nations had. So he decided to join the space race. He set up this camp seven miles outside of the city and tried to train people for the moon.
How did you discover the story?
I found it because my aunt was talking about it one day, and went online and searched for it, but there wasn’t much that was left, it was just some newspaper clippings and a video. I became obsessed with the story and the best thing about this story is that it’s not so documented, so you can imagine. The story is about imagination and dreams and desires.
Tell me about casting.
I had the written the character as an albino and casting in New York you’re not going to find a black albino woman in the right age range. So I just started googling … and came up with Diandra … I didn’t know if I could get her into my movie. Then by DP, my cinematographer was at a restaurant and saw her walk in and he talked to her, got her number and the rest is history.
What were the challenges with putting together this short?
It takes place in a hot African desert in the summer and we shot it in a cold beach in New Jersey in March so that was the biggest challenge, the climate.
You also went to NYU film school?
I’m really happy that I went, it was three years that I could just devote to thinking about cinema and film and filmmaking. I would never swap it, but it was challenging because they were very narrative based and I’m more experimental. I’ve always wanted to be a narrative director, so I was happy I went.
What’s next for you?
I’m making a feature version of “Afronauts.”