Hi Tambay –I’m making a documentary on heavy metal music in Mozambique. “Terra Pesada” shows Africa like you’ve never seen or heard it before: with an original hard-core head-banging heavy metal soundtrack. No one who hears these kids play and watches them mosh can say this is not their music.The website terrapesada.com
has trailers, videos of the kids talking about metal, music clips and information about Mozambique, in addition to contact information and a tab where you can make a tax-deductible donation directly through the site.I had been a journalist in Central America during Iran-Contra. I wrote pieces on baseball in Nicaragua and hang gliding in Guatemala for Sports Illustrated and worked as a stringer for NBC Radio. I later went to film school at NYU.I first went to Mozambique in April 2010 to stay with a friend after a decade-long illness. Of course I brought a camera. Metal makes me happy, so I went looking for it. The first concert I went to was in a township about an hour outside the city. I loved the music, and the kids were so engaging that I asked them if I could follow them around with a camera. I was compelled to shoot. I gave no thought to preproduction or funding. So far the entire project, including four trips to Mozambique, has been entirely self-funded through savings and credit cards.“Terra Pesada” has sponsorship from NYFA (the New York Foundation for the Arts), which is only rarely given to a first-time filmmaker, putting it under their 501(c)3 umbrella and making all donations to the project tax deductible. This is cachet, but unfortunately no money. It makes me eligible for grant money, but I am competing against films on rapes in Congo and child soldiers. Mozambique, after 500 years as a Portuguese slave colony and one of the ugliest histories in Africa, has now been at peace for 20 years. The traditional donor community, it seems, has some preconceptions about Africa–and hates metal.When most Westerners think of Africa, they think of rural Africa, of women and children, but vast numbers of Africans live in and around the cities. “Terra Pesada” (terrapesada.com) is an urban African story. These kids are the first generation of Mozambicans to grow up in peace, the first to have the luxury–and it is a luxury–of being rebellious and disaffected youth. These are the people the aid doesn’t reach.
The issues that plague the country are reflected in their lives and the lives of their families: poverty, disease, crime, corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, the world’s fifth-highest HIV/AIDS rate; high unemployment, particularly among the young; the growing disparity between the rich and poor; often inadequate access to water and proper sanitation facilities and the lack of reliable electricity, the lifeblood of heavy metal music. Like the musicians themselves, Mozambique is barely out of its teens.Most of the metal musicians are secondary school and university students in a country with a literacy rate still below 50%. (You are considered literate in Mozambique if you can sign your name.) They are some of the few (4%) Mozambicans to have access to the internet, which is how they first learned about metal. For them, the internet, particularly Facebook, has been their link to the world. It is where they first heard metal, how they shared it and how they continue to communicate with each other. The more young people in Africa–and India and China, for that matter–gain access to the internet, the more original metal you’ll see coming from these countries. Kids like metal.I filmed them at home, at school, hanging out with their friends, talking about music, politics, the wars, what their lives are like now, the difficulties they face, their hopes, dreams, ambitions, aspirations, and of course I filmed rehearsals and concerts. On my most recent trip I shot footage of one of the bands performing metal in Xangana, their tribal language, the first language for many of the boys. I hope to be adding it to the website soon.I am currently trying to complete post-production. I have been working alone, and I really need help.The ultimate goal of the project is to pay for the educations of the musicians, whatever they’d like to pursue, and give them instruments and amps.These kids are struggling to make their voices heard in one of the world’s poorest countries. Please help me find a way to get their story out.Feel free to ask me anything. I’d love to talk more about this with you and show you additional footage. I know there’s interest in this film. So far the terrapesada.com website has been viewed in 107 countries.I would welcome any input, suggestions, ideas or help you can give me.Thank you.Leslie Bornstein