I’ve yet to see Frances Bodomo’s latest short work, Boneshaker (which stars Quvenzhané Wallis), although I’ve heard nothing but good things about the film, since its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. 

It continues to travel the international film festival circuit, winning acclaim along the way, and will next screen at the New York African Film Festival, which starts this week, and where I hope I’ll be able to see the short.

Frances has already moved on to her next film, which I think is even more intriguing than Boneshaker, especially as we continue to have conversations about the dearth of black science fiction-centered stories in the market place.

Titled Afronauts, the film is based on a true story, which goes as follows:

In 1964, immediately following Zambia’s independence, grade school science teacher Edward Makuka Nkoloso set up the Zambia National Academy of Science, Space Research, and Astronomical Research in an old farmhouse 7 miles outside of Lusaka. Without resources (the £7,000,000 grant he applied to from UNESCO never came through), he hoped to launch a spacegirl (17-year-old Matha) and two cats into space before America or Russia could. To prepare his astronauts, Nkoloso rolled them down hills in 44-gallon oil drums or cut the rope of a swing at its highest point to simulate weightlessness. We do not know what became of them, other than that Matha became pregnant and was taken away by her parents.

The film’s starring cast of actors includes Diandra Forrest and Yolonda Ross.

More from Frances on her motivations for tackling this particular story on film:

I am extremely excited to tell an underdog story from the perspective of exiles and outsiders, the people who most need the promises of the space race. The people whose stories are lost or silenced to an iconic mainstream history that documents fact. What do you do when you can’t get “out there”? We are interested in telling an imagined history, a history for those who—resourceless—are forgotten to the pages of written history. We are interested in following characters that have not been able to find a home on earth and are therefore most attracted to the promise of the space race. We are interested in talking about lack of access to science, and different definitions of technological advancement. We are interested in exploring modern-day myths: the iconic place of the Apollo 11 touchdown in our collective consciousness, and the importance of myth in an enlightened age of scientific exploration.

30% of the film’s financing is coming from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and she’ll receive professional equipment, and post-production facilities from NYU, where she’s a student. And to make up the rest of the film’s budget, Frances has set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise an additional $10,000 which will go towards:

– secure a desert location

– pay for stock footage from 1969

– cover accommodation and travel costs

– feed the cast & crew

– keep the cast & crew safe during scenes that involve fire

– shoot on the revolutionary Arri Alexa camera

– pay for film festival submission fees

Thus far, the campaign has raised just over $2,000, with 20 days to go. So if you’d like to chip in, click HERE to head over to the project’s Kickstarter page, or within the widget below.

And check out a teaser for Frances’ current film, Boneshaker, for a glimpse.
You can also *like* the Afronauts Facebook page HERE to stay updated.