Barry wins Zonta Prize for Female Filmmaker at International Short Film Festival

Using only a cellphone and her wheelchair to get around, the Gqeberha filmmaker has won a top international award for her short film A Camera On My Lap.

Filmmaker Shelley Barry and her mother. Barry has won the Zonta Prize for Female Filmmaker. Picture: shelleybarrytwospinningwheels/Instagram.

Zain Johnson spoke to South African Shelley Barry has won the Zonta Prize for Female Filmmaker in an international competition at the International Short Film Festival, in Oberhausen, Germany.

"So I was in lockdown in Gqeberha with my mom for several months and I really wanted to make a film I wanted to create. And because I am vulnerable in a wheelchair I stayed in isolation pretty march so the question I would ask myself with all my previous work was what can I make here like literally what can I make in this location. So I have made films in the past from my bedroom or in the lounge or wherever I find myself seeing what kind of story can inspire me to make something, and we have a very special home in that it is dedicated to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo she was a painter with a disability and prolific painter and did most of her work with her disability and when I was shot" said Barry.

Using only a cellphone and her wheelchair to get around, the Gqeberha filmmaker has won a top international award for her short film A Camera On My Lap.

"I was actually shot in Cape Town in 1996 during the taxi turf wars I was of course extremely depressed in my life and hearing of the work of Frida Kahlo and that she become an artist after the disability is extremely inspiring to me and a very turning point to think well if she can do it, why can't I. I can't give up".

Barry has worked extensively as a disability rights activist, following a shooting in the Cape taxi wars of 1996 that resulted in her being a wheelchair user.

She has held positions as Media Manager in the Office on the Status of Disabled Persons in the Presidency and as the National Parliamentary Policy Co-ordinator for Disabled People South Africa. During this time she coordinated Nelson Mandela’s guard of honour for his State of Nation address in 1997.

"So while working for the Presidency in early 2000 my mom and I were at a conference in Mexico, and we went to visit her home which is famously known as the Blue House and when we come back my mom turned our house to the Blue House. In honour of her for having inspired me. So we have this very Mexican Frida Khalo themed house. So that got me started thinking Ok maybe I should make a theme about the blue house, Frida's influence on me, and you know. So that's part of the storyline but also about challenging cinema and saying you know who is on screen and surly we all belong on screen".

To find out more, listen to the full interview below.