It should be clear by now that we’re high on Frances Bodomo’s upcoming Afronauts, a film on the 1964 Zambian Space Program.
Her last short work – the Super 16 film, sumptuous, other-worldly Boneshaker (which stars Quvenzhané Wallis) – made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and continues to travel the international film festival circuit, winning acclaim along the way.
The Afronauts story, which is based on a true story, goes as follows:
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.
The film’s starring cast of actors includes Diandra Forrest, Yolonda Ross and Hoji Fortuna.