Zoe Ramushu's Latest Collaborative Project Premieres At The New York African Film Festival

Filmmaker Zoe Ramushu's latest project was on showcase at the recently held New York African Film Festival. 

Zoe Ramushu
Zoe Ramushu

The film is titled “Intelligent” or “Botlhale” (Tswana) which also happens to be the lead character’s name in the film. As Zoe tells it the name was selected by the director of the film and her business partner in the film's production Rea Moeti. The film is a co-production between Zoe's company Chiriseri Studios and Rareview Media (Rea Moeti’s company).

Botlhale is the story of a character by the same name who lives with a mental illness. He makes new friends and finds love when he’s institutionalized. The friends plan an escape to a fast food joint, where they’ll live out their fantasies of being high society people, but their escape day collides with the shutting down of their institution, where their lives collide with tragedy and death. 

The story is fictional but based on the real crisis that happened at Life Esidemeni (The Life Esidemeni tragedy involving the deaths of 144 people at psychiatric facilities in the Gauteng province of South Africa from causes including starvation and neglect).

Botlhale was selected for the New York African Film Festival and premiered at the Lincoln Center in Manhattan New York in May. This was the film's first showing as it kicks off its festival run.

Zoe Ramushu & Rea Moeti
Zoe Ramushu & Rea Moeti
We felt a lot of responsibility for creating this project, which was inspired by the SA national tragedy known as Esidimeni. Mental health is quite a sensitive topic and we were careful to capture the human side of the patients with mental health. We want the audience to connect with the characters and their simple but important aspirations, it’s easy to see the tragedy as stats only but forget the human stories that belong to the individuals, we’d like audiences to make that connection.

Some of the highlights of Zoe Ramushu's career include her production, To The Plate which was last year shortlisted for the BAFTA Student Film Awards. She was also the producer and director of It Takes A Circus, nominated for the Student Academy Awards 2021. 

She was also part of the documentary called David and now Bothlale/Intelligent. She is also producing two feature films this year. One for MNET the other for Netflix. The filmmaker is currently based in Cape Town.

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