by Denis Elamu
JUBA, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese local film industry, though still nascent, is slowly growing following the launch of the annual film festival last year, which encourages production of films reflecting the country's culture.
Most movies at this year's festival, which opened on Tuesday, are works of young men and women inspired by their country's turbulent past and present that also includes social, cultural complexities like early child marriage and domestic violence.
Wilma Poni, 22, a budding actress and also student of accounting and finance at Juba University, plays a supporting role in the drama "Dollar" depicting the scarcity of hard currency in the prevailing economic hardship in the country.
Poni told Xinhua in Juba Thursday that she has sought inspiration from the current challenges.
"I started acting in 2014. At that time we had an event on peace following eruption of conflict in our country. There are a lot of problems like the shortage of U.S. dollars, we started to make fun of it," she said.
The other movie in which Poni stars, Tears of Street Kids, is currently a nominee in this year's second annual film festival organized by Juba Film Limited.
"When some people watch the film, they will be inspired to work hard," she said, adding that South Sudanese movies could soon compete on the regional scene.
According to John Thomas, one of the directors at Juba Film Limited, this year there has been improvement in the quality of the photos and production among the 32 local movies and 37 foreign movies being screened.
She disclosed that movies from DR Congo, Tanzania, Rwanda, Tanzania, France, Sweden and Germany with similar cultural connection to South Sudanese experience will compete in the Saturday award ceremony.
"There is big progress. The stories are nice, the screen and the scenery is very nice. After this one we are looking to improve further next year," Thomas told Xinhua.
Charles Sebit, a 33-year-old actor and film producer, said part of his work involves highlighting violence against women, and educating the population on the dangers of cholera, in the wake of the watery diarrhea disease killing hundreds.
Sebit earned an award at last year's annual film festival. He added that despite some improvement on the film quality, eyeing regional competition will help the industry to grow further.
"The challenge we still have now is mainly lack of financial support for our films. We need advanced technology equipments like cameras and stages," he said.
The outbreak of the December 2013 conflict in South Sudan has led to the killing of thousands and contributed to one of the largest refugee influx in the region since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
It is from such challenges that young South Sudanese are reconstructing the national identity and psych through the creative arts.