Still River Films Case Study

Family History

Life during a war

Lorna’s Story

In this moving and thought provoking family history film, we explore an important period in Lorna Cole’s life. She offers a very personal view of what life was like during the Rhodesian War. It’s easy to look back and think that many of us haven’t lived a life like that. Its true, we haven’t, but in our experience, many so-called “normal” experiences in life are just as extraordinary and interesting. It depends on how you tell the story.

Why capture your family’s memories

This short film was part of a larger family history project to document Lorna’s life story. These are the kinds of stories that are passed down from generation to generation through word of mouth. Sadly, over time these stories are often forgotten forever. Some people turn to writing and documenting their memoirs in the hope that their stories are passed on. I think deep down, we all want to be heard, whether in this world or the next. The written word is a powerful tool and it can easily communicate the details and thoughts of one’s life. But it is video that communicates understanding and emotion, whether its happy or sad. Seeing and hearing somebody recalling an impactful story has a tremendous gravity to it. Capturing this on film might sound like a simple thing to do, but it is extraordinary how much is involved. Still River Films has spent many years perfecting a storytelling approach for whole-life stories. The responses we get to some of our whole-life stories usually result in people saying, “I wish I had done something like this”. This type of project has a profound effect, especially as the family grows up and becomes older. The information is recorded as a keepsake and will be passed down from generation to generation. Is the effort worth it? Absolutely!

This film is just one small part amongst tens of hours of recorded footage in Lorna’s life story. The rest of the footage covers her earliest memories growing up in 1930’s rural Africa, to creating one of the most businesses in Southern Africa; and eventually having to leave her beloved country after the intimidation of Robert Mugabe’s government and his armed security forces.

The Rhodesian Bush War : 1964 – 1979

The Rhodesian Bush War was a significant event for all those that were apart of it. The war started when the Rhodesian government had become embroiled in a bitter civil war in July of 1964. It was a bloody and gruesome war that was fought in some of the most beautiful landscapes you could imagine. Sadly, almost 40 years later this history is being lost in time. Lorna has seen a great transformation of her homeland throughout her life time. Her first home when she was born was a pole and dagga hut, made from straw, wood and mud. Her parents were part of the pioneers, the early settlers, who travelled up to Rhodesia (from South Africa) and had helped build what was then called, Southern Rhodesia. There were no roads or infrastructure to speak of. Lorna has seen first hand how a country was born, it was at a time when there were no roads or bridges. And she’s witnessed how the country became the breadbasket of Africa exporting food – not just for Africa, but also exporting food to Britain during the Second World War. And she has seen the country turn to ruins, destroyed by thugs, greed for power and murder. Zimbabwe now has over 95% unemployment and is in tatters.

The war was a terrible tragedy on many levels. The security forces lost 1,361 young soldiers and 468 civilians (including many farmers). This short film gives a glimpse of what it was like to live during that time and her views on looking back at the past.

Recording your family history

If you want to document your own family’s stories, then it’s worth getting them recorded soon. Time can easily pass you by when it becomes all too late. Perhaps your father loved books, or loved building boats. Whatever their story, it would be a lovely keepsake that will become part of your family history records. We have developed unique storytelling techniques specifically for family history projects; and we can tailor a package specifically for you.

What’s your story?

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