“Indlela Yokuphila” Wins Golden Zebu at Madagascourt Film Festival!

We are thrilled to share the joyous news that Empatheatre’s animated film, “Indlela Yokuphila,” has been honored with the prestigious GOLDEN ZEBU at the 18th edition of the Madagascourt Film Festival. This remarkable achievement celebrates the film’s excellence in the pan-African animation competition. 
“Our heartfelt gratitude goes to our esteemed collaborators, Shells and Spells, Triggerfish, and the One Ocean Hub, as well as the invaluable contributions from the Environmental Learning Research Centre, Rhodes University and Urban Futures Centre, Durban University of Technology. Special appreciation is extended to the exceptionally talented individuals who generously shared their time, talent, and love to bring this film to life.” Co-Founder of Empatheatre, and co-Director of the film Dr. Dylan McGarry says.  
“Indlela Yokuphila,” translating to “the Soul’s journey” in Zulu, was expertly researched and narrated by Mpume Mthombeni (Empatheatre) and directed by Marc Moynihan (Shells & Spells) and Dr. Dylan McGarry (Empatheatre/Rhodes University). The film aims to make intangible ocean heritages tangible in governance and education through animation and public dialogue, contributing to a more profound understanding of ocean wellbeing. 
Co-director Mpume Mthombeni emphasises the sacred role of storytelling in ocean governance, a sentiment she shared at the United Nations launch of the film on June 8, 2023. The film addresses critical oversights in ocean governance by incorporating spiritual and cultural heritages into decision-making and marine spatial planning. 
“Indlela Yokuphila” was included as an appendix to the powerful testimonies of Small Scale Fisher Leaders in their court case against Shell and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Notably, it became the first animation used as evidence in a South African court, representing intangible cultural heritage related to the ocean. 
The film, along with other Empatheatre works, sheds light on and connects with intangible ocean heritages in governance and education. The collaborative effort with the One Ocean Hub, exploring South African spirituality, aligns with scientific concepts and contributes to community-led research on transformative ocean governance. 
The visually captivating film, a testament to dedicated efforts, accurately represents Indigenous knowledge while creating an immersive experience with its operatic atmosphere and original score directed by Braam du Toit in collaboration with the Cape Town Opera. 
“Indlela Yokuphila” serves as a love letter to Kwa-Zulu Natal, delving into traditions and acknowledging sacred rituals in the region’s history. Ultimately, the film aims to unravel historical complexities, ensuring that cultural values and heritage are integral to marine spatial planning and ocean decision-making. 
As a gift to be shared and enjoyed freely, “Indlela Yokuphila” stands as a powerful testament to the transformative impact of storytelling and collaboration in promoting a deeper understanding of the relationship between humans and marine ecosystems. 

Indlela was premiered internationally at the United Nations in New York on World Ocean Days 2023

Photo: Elisa Morgera