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AFDA Durban postgraduate validictory speech – Temara Prem

March 15, 2017 1:46 pm

I don’t claim to be a writer or a poet, so this will be short. I have a

few things to say, and I’d like to start off by saying that I came to

AFDA a complete introvert. I couldn’t talk to people, it took me a

while to make friends, and now after four years of experiencing

that termly adrenaline and anxiety before production course

presentations and the dreaded VALA, I can now speak to a room

full of people with only a little swat on my palms. So thank you

AFDA.

 

We’re all here tonight because of excellence, perseverance and

achievement, and I feel so empowered- but it’s mostly because I

look like batman. But seriously, we’re here this evening as

filmmakers, actors, artists, storytellers, academics, and creatives.

We’re here to acknowledge our skills and knowledge, to end one

chapter that we all shared together, and to start a thousand new

exciting ones. There is a world of possibilities ahead, and by now I

hope you know the power of your capabilities. We have the ability

and responsibility to be the mirror in our society, to shine a light on

untold stories, or even harsh truths. We start conversations,

expand horizons, and at the same time, we are dreamers.

 

So I’d like to salute all my fellow graduates in this room. Because

you made the leap of faith. You made the choice to join the arts,

knowing the risks, knowing the rewards, the anxiety, the

satisfaction, the insomnia, but most of all- the passion within

yourselves. So I’d like to quote Frieda Kahlo to you, and say- “You

deserve the best, the very best, because you are one of the few

people in this lousy world who are honest to themselves, and that

is the only thing that really counts.”

 

If I could say one thing about myself, it would be that I am

extremly privileged in my support structure of my family, who

undoubtedly kept me afloat when I felt my ship was sinking. And

there were plenty times. So to our parents, our families, our

support structures, I thank you on behalf of all of us for keeping us

sane, keeping us fed, and giving us your support.

 

Like my family does, keep feeding your sons’ or daughter’s hunger

for education, and push them to keep learning and keep achieving.

Because, to learn a skill, to be able to better yourself, to challenge

what you see and hear, to make informed decisions, to change the

way you see the world- it’s all you need to make a difference. And

it’s important to me that each one of you in this room seize every

opportunity that comes your way. I can preach about how

incredibly privileged we are to be here all day, but I won’t.

 

It was my grandmother who taught me, when I was a child, to treat

a book with respect. I, and I’m sure many others here, come from

a background where, for my grandmothers, education wasn’t an

option. Those women, though, in a world and time that was against

them, they flourished, and they became fierce. I knew never to

take my education for granted, and I knew I wanted to be and be

around such women when I grew up.

 

On that note, to all the women here, the producers, editors, vfx

artists, cinematographers, and all you women of colour eager to

break those glass ceilings, it’s difficult, it comes with the type of

baggage we know others will not experience or understand. But

don’t stop trying. As my favourite authoress, Phillipa Gregory said,

“You have to choose the best, every day, without

compromise…guided by your own virtue and highest ambition”.

 

To my class, and to my teachers, this will be the fifth year that we

know each other. Our year had a lot of ups and downs- we were

the first to walk the hallways at AFDA Durban, the first to graduate. We’ll

never forget Mr Green and Mrs Van Eeden constantly showing us

the way, and assuring us that our seriously cringe-worthy first year

films were good, or Mr Strydom and Tomaselli staying overnight

with us in post-production to make sure we had films to show. My

favourite memories, though, was when we all camped at campus

for weeks during post production because we only had 4

computers, and we were all broke as hell, but we still fed each

other pizza and coffee from the garage, and went a little crazy too.

But as the Mad Hatter says, all the best people are crazy.

 

To Mrs Janet Van Eeden, we thank you for letting us cry in your

office. Thank you for heading a sensational first Honours year in

Durban. It means everything that you care about us so much. You

are literally our pillar of strength, and a woman to be in awe of.

And finally to my class, I can confirm we are veterans of AFDA,

and we can take anything the world throws at us, because we

have done so already. You are the most talented, passionate,

woke individuals I have come across, and without a doubt, you will

make waves and change the world.

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