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Uga Carlini is the president of Towerkop Creations and is an award winning director, screenwriter and producer. Uga is a PUMA Catalyst Audience Award winner for her short ‘Good Planets are hard to find’, an ATKV Media Veertjie nominee for Zyron Films documentary series Sewe Sakke Sout and was voted one of SA’s most extraordinary women.
Please Introduce yourself, so that the world may know you from the Uga perspective.
Hi, I am Uga Carlini. I specialise in film. Creating female- driven heroine stories, where possible and I am a mum, it is very important for me to say that so that other females can be inspired and know that there’s no excuse for what you want to do, you can do it. It’s just sometimes harder. I live in Fish Hoek by the sea and the mountains with lots of pets, fresh air and beautiful stars in the sky at night.
How did you get in to film, when did you feel that this was literally a calling for you?
It really always was what I wanted to do. My mom tells me stories how, from the age of 4 years old I would turn the weather or the news down and then I would read it out myself, or act it, so something was there from when I was young. Initially my journey in film started with acting. I became an actress while studying acting and film. The real issue was that film schools were not like they are now, dedicated film schools did not exist when I wanted to study so we had limited choices. My mom was also a single parent, but because she worked at Stellenbosch University, I could study there for free, that was a perk. I had to go to Stellenbosch that was my only choice and I studied drama. In the final year of my degree, I could choose film, so I came alive in that. I started acting professionally, but my final destination, my grand plan was directing, that was always my vision. So, in 1999 I went over to London, it was extremely difficult to be acting in South Africa back then, the film industry was not as built up and it was quiet. A lot was transitioning politically in our country, but the film industry was seasonal and not at all as alive as it is today. I always did courses wherever I went, and at that stage I found myself travelling back and forth between South Africa and London. I met my husband who is Australian and I went to Australia for a number of years, where I did courses and had a drama school there. The big change came, when my husband got a job in Fiji and I told him that he was not going to work there on his own but I was going with. He looked at me and asked me, “what are you going to do there?” And I replied, “I’m going to make films.” I arrived in Fiji and immediately I went to visit the University of Fiji, I spoke to them about starting up a course about acting, screen writing and film making, and so I wrote the syllabus and started with 11 pioneering students. We were there for some time and when we returned to South Africa, I started up my film making company, Towerkop Creations, in 2010.
This year 2016, you released the hybrid film Alison. Most people who live in South Africa can never forget Alison Botha’s horrific rape story. It is now a film, a powerful film that shares the tragedy but also uplifts, why did you decide to direct Alison’s story?
In 1999, I heard Alison share her story on the rugby field at my old high school. They had to move the talk which was scheduled to be in the hall, but too many people arrived for the talk and they then moved it to the field. I always believe that different people come in to our lives, at different times and it is in that moment, that you hear something or experience something that connects with what you need right then. That evening on that sport field was a major shift for me. I made a promise to myself right then (and I keep my promises always), I told myself one day I will be the one to share with others what I just experienced. I looked around and saw what Alison meant to others, to men and to women, what her words meant and what she means and I wanted to give that to the world. I sit back and can now say I kept my promise and I did it, it wasn’t easy, but I did it.
How intense was it to film Alison’s story?
Alison and I built up a friendship over four years so by the time the cameras rolled, it truly was like talking to one of my best friends. Our connection is very deep, and for me I can never accept that something so terrible happened to someone so amazing. I can never truly believe it, or get used to it, and yet at the same time I can see the damage, I can see the pain. I think of the people out there who walk with this every day, people who are walking with this pain and with the damage and it’s hard for me to think about that. Alison got a form of justice when her attackers were caught and sentenced, that justice does not take the pain away and cannot heal what has happened, but it helps. Some people never get justice, they just live with it and that’s hard to deal with.
Let’s talk about the Butterfly Revolution, a beautiful collection of powerful portraits by South African celebrities, speaking out against rape and violence. Tell us about this Revolution and how can we get involved in standing up against violence?
When I obtained the copyrights to Alison’s story, I had to do a lot of research before making the film. So, I started my Alison research, by going to the Charlize Theron commercial in 1999. This straight-talking commercial caused a stir and it was pulled from air but the irony of it is the truth that, real men don’t rape! It’s so simple. The Butterfly Revolution is my 2016 answer to Charlize’s 19999 attempt. I’m saying instead of finger pointing or accusing, let’s start a revolution where we are not saying what’s wrong with everything but let’s talk about what’s right and what we can do about it. I’m interested in the men that don’t rape and in the people who are raising amazing men and women who are amazing individuals. The celebrities who did participate were just amazing, and they just made themselves available without payment and on a tight time schedule. The whole idea is for the public to get involved as well, for them to make their signs, hold their boards, or film a short clip and hashtag the Butterfly Revolution. Everything counts, it is enough, be silently brave or publicly revolutionary.
Alison the Film is now Available on DVD at your Local Entertainment Store!
Social Media #butterflyrevolution:
Alison the movie: