Working in various areas of Southern Africa, we have met incredible people. One of them is Lloyd Maanyina, the star of our short film, Amazing Grace, which recently won an award at the D.C. Environmental Film Festival.

Lloyd is a Zambian man living in the village of Livingstone. He used to be a charcoal burner – charcoal production is one of the main causes of deforestation in Zambia.

Of his own accord, Lloyd decided to start growing trees, because he felt like it was “pay back time to nature”. He built a small tree nursery in his backyard and slowly began selling his saplings to, amongst others, a social enterprise from South Africa called Greenpop that plants thousands of trees around Livingstone every July.

Working with Greenpop, we filmed Lloyd’s efforts over the course of 18 months, and slowly watched his dream become a reality. Lloyd still needs a lot of support to build a fully functioning nursery.

That is why we have started a crowdfunding campaign for him.

As filmmakers, we are intrigued by the afterlife of the films and photographs we produce. We wondered what would happen if we showed Lloyd’s video to a group of charcoal burners in a neighboring community—would it inspire them to seek alternative sources of employment? How can media be used for social change, how are people finding local innovative solutions to problems through developing solar cookers, water purifiers, and tire gardening systems?

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith

With two partner organizations—Greenpop and Shift—we collectively have developed The Sunshine Cinema, a mobile, solar-powered cinema that will travel around Southern Africa’s most remote rural areas.

We are a group of young social entrepreneurs that are connecting the dots between storytelling and social change by screening films and hosting workshops that champion local solutions to local problems, empowering communities to take on the challenges they face.

The Sunshine Cinema is a mobile, solar-powered cinema that is enabling knowledge and skills sharing from one community to another. By screening short films that show indigenous solutions to climate change, and practical approaches to address socio-economic and environmental issues, Sunshine Cinema promotes sustainable innovations by Africans, for Africans.

In essence, The Sunshine Cinema documents ‘appropriate technologies’ already in use in various communities, and shares these with other communities facing similar environmental and social challenges. To complement the screenings, we facilitate workshops to demonstrate the simplicity of the appropriate technologies and to explore broader, related issues through discussion. The Sunshine Cinema has extraordinary potential to help people in South African rural communities to develop relevant skills that can lead to a sustainable livelihood.

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith

The Sunshine Cinema would not have been possible at its current size and functionality a few years ago. Smart phones, more efficient solar panels, wireless speakers, micro HD projectors: What used to fit into a truck now fits into a briefcase. But we have to acknowledge that with the technology comes a widening gap between those that have access and those that don’t.

Sunshine Cinema is a way for us to address this concern and share information, while introducing and educating communities to the wonders of technology through an innovation cinema, powered by the sun.

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith

Photograph by Sydelle Willow Smith


  1. marjan
    May 17, 2014, 7:32 am

    great idea…I’m always impressed by the power of our sun and people who concerns about our planet