Pop up cinemas in Khayelitsha


For just R1 for popcorn, and you can watch a movie at Buhle Sithela’s pop up cinema in Khayelitsha. It took two years, but Sithela, 22 years old, has realised his dream to bring cinema to the township with regular weekend film shows. He makes the popcorn himself.

“I have been catering for the kids around Harare. Before a screening, I usually go out and spread the word … I show them educational films, short films, documentaries and comedy,” said Sithela. Sithela decided to screen films in Khayelitsha because there are no malls with cinemas close by to watch movies. He said, “You must have money for transport, a movie ticket, popcorn and cooldrink. I wanted to bring movies to the people. I believe movies can inspire and educate people. And it’s also a form of entertainment.”

He saved money to buy speakers from his business, cleaning municipal wheelie bins in his neighbourhood. He was also sponsored by Sunshine Cinema with a screen and a Sunbox which includes a mini projector, a small solar panel, a generator, light and plugs.

Sithela screens his movies in different venues, sometimes in his own front yard using the Sunshine screen and projector and setting up a few chairs. Movies he has screened include Sarafina, Long Walk to Freedom and Mr Bones. Other movie venues in Khayelitsha are the Isivivana Centre which offers film screenings in the Bertha Movie House, and the Snapshot Mobile Cinema started by Bulelani Mvotho which screens films not only in Khayelitsha, but also in Gugulethu, Langa, Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Thamsanqa Dinizulu of Snapshot Mobile Cinema said, “We are based in Harare Square and during the weekend we screen at the Isivivana Centre or we use the hall right here next to us.”

Dinizulu said the films were chosen in terms of relevance and topics suggested by people. For instance, he screened films about women during women’s month, and discussions were organised around the film.

This article was published and first appeared on www.GroundUp.org.zaon 17 October 2017.

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