matwetwe,
"Support local" is not a marketing campaing unless you do the work it requires.



On 25 January, the beginning of the first payday weekend of the year, Kagiso Lediga's second directorial offering opened at cinemas. "Matwetwe" is a coming of age story set over one New Year's Eve day in Attridgeville. 

Guilting the public into supporting your work rarely works. Shaming people into giving you their time and hard-earned money in these Thuma Mina Economy times is near-impossible. Importantly, neither of these tactics are a substitute for rigorous and sustained marketing.

I'm on the side of Twitter where a few people I follow are proper Twitter promoters. They make the latest singles, albums and events trend. For a few, of course. It's baffling that instead of these kinds of tweets (promoting, call to action!) I saw the rapper and the model-actor trying to

On Monday, Black Coffe (the DJ) who is one of the executive producers of "Matwetwe", and one of its vocal promoters this past week, reported that it was the best performing film on the 25 January box office weekend. And, good for the creators and audiences alike.

While routinely lurking Instagram Stories on Saturday I saw someone sharing that what happens in Gauteng this weekend (the number of viewers) will determine if the film makes it to the rest of the country/more screens. This sounded like a great campaign waiting to happen.

The good news, in the form of just tweets from the producers of "Matwetwe" at the moment, is that there were 16, 000 tickets sold. That "Matwetwe" will be on more screen across the country soon. This is all good news! But can South African creators and producers get to this point through proper marketing tactics that have nothing to do with emotional blackmail and bringing up that one time we were so excited about a blockbuster that had the entire black diaspora excited, a blockbuster that drew quite a bit from the local film industry.

You can't force people to wish you well and to want to see you succeed. You can't make a quirky comedy story one that has massive appeal, but you can go to where the people who are into that and tell them about this thing that's, like, right up their alley. This past weekend, with all the draggings and backlash, I couldn't help remember the era when one of my local tuck shops was a distribution point for the "Madluphuthu" and "Strictly Venac" DVDs. You'd go to Green House for bread and there it would be in the window.

I haven't seen any tweets from Lediga trying to emotionally blackmail his audience. Good for him. But the person who did is someone who creates things himself, needs to let go of this shaming and entitlement. The audience (mostly black South African on Twitter) spoke in almost unison to say they didn't even know "Matwetwe" was a thing. Now what?

A press release from the film's distributor, UIP, says the film made almost a million this weekend. A testament that "Matwetwe" found its people or its people found it. Aside from the "more cinemas!" drive, another opportunity I saw for the film was to market it as niche as possible -- make every viewing about ukuphakamisa ikasi lakho. 

There are more and better options other than, "But you have to keep that same energy for this thing that isn't even the same genre as the other thing from overseas you paid for!" Respect your work and your audience enuf to do more. Respect your work enuf to support it beyond social media diatribes.


The trailer for "Matwetwe" in case you're one of its people.