About this project
Based on a true story, and funded in part by the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Grant, Afronauts tells an alternative history of the 1960s Space Race:
It’s July 16th 1969 and, as America prepares to send Apollo 11 to the moon, a group of exiles in the Zambian desert are rushing to launch their rocket first.
BASED ON A TRUE STORY
In 1964, immediately following Zambia's independence, grade school science teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso set up the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research, and Astronomical Research in an old farmhouse 7 miles outside of Lusaka. Without resources (the £7,000,000 grant he applied to from UNESCO never came through), he hoped to launch a spacegirl (17-year-old Matha) and two cats into space before America or Russia could. To prepare his astronauts, Nkoloso rolled them down hills in 44-gallon oil drums or cut the rope of a swing at its highest point to simulate weightlessness. We do not know what became of them, other than that Matha became pregnant and was taken away by her parents.
Afronauts is my pre-thesis film at the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film Program. My previous NYU film, Boneshaker (starring Oscar Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis and also funded on Kickstarter), premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival & is currently continuing its festival run.
For Boneshaker, I turned to my own migratory experience to explore modern-day definitions of home. Now, I am extremely excited to tell an underdog story from the perspective of exiles and outsiders, the people who most need the promises of the space race. The people whose stories are lost or silenced to an iconic mainstream history that documents fact. What do you do when you can't get "out there"?
I am extremely excited to be collaborating with a motley creative team from around the world: Cornish DP Joshua James Richards (who also shot Boneshaker!), British Producer Isabella Wing-Davey, Barcelonian Production Designer Feli Lamenca, and Sierra Leonean Costume Designer Sarita Fellows! Nothing like a motley crew to bring this film to life!
We are interested in telling an imagined history, a history for those who—resourceless—are forgotten to the pages of written history.
We are interested in following characters that have not been able to find a home on earth and are therefore most attracted to the promise of the space race.
We are interested in talking about lack of access to science, and different definitions of technological advancement.
We are interested in exploring modern-day myths: the iconic place of the Apollo 11 touchdown in our collective consciousness, and the importance of myth in an enlightened age of scientific exploration.
In addition to receiving 30% of our budget from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are receiving professional equipment, production insurance, and post-production facilities from NYU.
Sadly, these generous donations do not cover production costs. We are attempting to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter to:
- secure a desert location
- pay for stock footage from 1969
- cover accommodation and travel costs
- feed the cast & crew
- keep the cast & crew safe during scenes that involve fire
- shoot on the revolutionary Arri Alexa camera
- pay for film festival submission fees
I am continuously excited by the new generation of female, African, and Afropolitan filmmakers that are asking far-reaching, universal, existential questions from the continent. Goodbye to Hollywood-funded pity parties on film!
Become a part of our community! Every dollar counts! And please help us by spreading our Facebook and Kickstarter pages far and wide.
Let's get ready for blast off!
Risks and challenges
As with any film, we face an uphill battle to get our film made, and recreating an African desert in the tri-state area is definitely one of them! But we are excited to make this film, tell this story, and work with some fantastic talents.
Once we go into production there's always the concern about locations or casting falling through, and having to reschedule, but we have a great team on board, and don't anticipate this happening. If for some reason it does, we'll still get it done, and you will still get your backer rewards as promised!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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