Filmmaker Sandulela Asanda Talks Breaking Taboos with ‘Mirror Mirror’

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South African filmmaker Sandulela Asanda, a graduate of the AFDA Film School in Cape Town, speaks with SAPeople about her coming-of-age comedy, ‘Mirror Mirror’, and her journey to break taboos around female sexuality while navigating the film industry in South Africa.

Asanda’s coming-of-age comedy, ‘Mirror Mirror’ was recently screened at the Berlinale’s Generation14plus Programme to great acclaim. The film features a mix of English and Xhosa languages and showcases the frustrating sexual self-exploration journey of Luthando, a young teenager, played by Luhle Macanda, seeking her first orgasm.

The Importance of Female-Driven Coming-of-Age Films

Asanda emphasizes the importance of making ‘Mirror Mirror’ about the girl only. She wanted to create a film where the main character does the sexual exploration herself, as it is essential to learn about oneself and become comfortable in one’s body before going out into the world.

Breaking Taboos and the Role of Media

Female sexuality and self-determination are heavily influenced by other women. Asanda explains that her first in-depth conversation about sex was with her friends, while her mother only gave her conservative instructions not to have sex. Asanda believes that media plays a crucial role in the way people understand sexuality and self-pleasure. She aims to make female sexuality normal and break the taboo around it.

Personal Experience

Asanda started masturbating relatively late, in her mid-20s. She found it scary and very insecure when she was younger. As a young teenager, she heard her friends talking about sex and doing stuff with their boyfriends, but she was not ready. Asanda wishes that she had learned to be more comfortable with her body and romantic interactions earlier.

Womanhood and Maternity

Asanda has had a complicated relationship with womanhood her entire life, especially as a kid, where she felt all these rules being imposed on her for no absolute reason. Asanda is now intentional about expressing herself as a woman and dressing the way she wants. She writes about her emotions and feelings to deal with the emotions that come with being a woman in society.

‘Mirror Mirror’ and ‘Black Burns Fast’

Asanda’s debut feature, ‘Black Burns Fast,’ is a queer coming-of-age film. The film is almost fully financed and will feature Luthando and Jodie, the characters from ‘Mirror Mirror.’ Asanda says the film is about celebrating curiosity and love of self, and she hopes to be back in Berlin next year to showcase the film.

Loadshedding in South Africa

Asanda also spoke about the impact of loadshedding on filming in South Africa. Trying to get generators has been very tough, especially for smaller teams, as generators are expensive. When they cannot get generators, they have to work around loadshedding schedules.

Asanda’s ‘Mirror Mirror’ is a bold and thought-provoking short film that challenges the taboo around female sexuality. Her dedication to telling women’s stories and creating female-driven films has made her a rising star in the South African film industry.

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