What is Sunshine Cinema?

Sunshine Cinema is a solar powered cinema network. We use relevant documentary and feature films to spark dialogue, educate, and inspire social change through free community cinema screenings. We train and employ youth to be Sunbox Ambassadors hosting these free events on mini solar cinema kits (the Sunbox). They run facilitation sessions engaging audiences on key social issues to #SparkConversation after each screening.

Issues such as:

  • Gender based violence
  • Youth Empowerment
  • Human Rights

General Questions

What is a Sunbox?

The Sunbox is a complete solar powered cinema in a box. We want to spread sunshine far and wide and so we created the Sunbox, which we sell to interested parties and individuals across Africa.

The Sunbox includes:

-A solar panel and battery

-Mini projector

-Speakers

-Full instruction kit

-Bright yellow hard case

Why Cinema?

Youth unemployment is a huge issue in Southern Africa. There are not enough spaces for communities to engage on issues of gender, climate, active citizenship in a safe and meaningful way.  The potential of local film industries has long been held back by challenges of distribution and exhibition of African cinema on the continent. In the past it could be argued that the main challenge facing African cinema was the making of films. Now the real challenge is to reach wider audiences more effectively, creating markets that support the sustainability of African Cinema.

How do you select your films?

We screen various types of dynamic, educational, and interactive content – All related to social or environmental change and focusing on African stories – both fiction and documentary. We are always looking for more films to screen – especially in local languages. Our favourites are films that #SparkConversation. We are funding dependent and make educational license fees available wherever possible. We provide filmmakers with screening reports, and audience feedback in the form of video testimonials and photos.  

If you want us to put a film you have made on existing Sunboxes, we provide our Ambassadors with a digital file. (They all sign a contract when they start their programs which strictly prohibits them from sharing films with third parties or charging entrance for their screenings). We then send you report packages every quarter with key audience feedback, photos, and video testimonials.

How do I become a Sunbox Ambassador?

We train and employ passionate youth to be impact producers, using documentary and feature films to be impact producers. Sunbox Ambassador are passionate people who we give a mini cinema kit (Sunbox) to so that they can host their own Sunshine Cinema screening. The Ambassadors are responsible for organising their screenings, securing venues, organising promotion to attract audiences and to document their events – recording video/voice note testimonials and photos and reports which they sent to our project manager to collate for M&E purposes. We work out what a fair rate for an Ambassador to run the box is depending on the local context

We are always looking to expand our network of Sunbox Ambassadors – but are funding dependent. Please contact noni@sunshinecinema.org for more information

Why Solar Power?

Sunshine Cinema was established because one of our founders (Rowan Pybus) was travelling extensively (as a filmmaker) and he began to think about ways in which he could reduce his growing carbon footprint. He interest in clean energy increased over the years when he saw more and more deforestation in some of the places he visited. In like manner, our co-founder, Sydelle Willow Smith, has done film and photography work with numerous leading environmentally conscious organisations and groups and this sparked a desire to create a solutions-driven media outlet unlike anything South Africa had ever seen before. Together Rowan and Sydelle set about building a cleaner and greener cinema experience that was fully mobile, easy to set up and cost-effective. Sure, they could have just created a regular electricity-powered mobile cinema solution but as they see it, solar energy is a better way forward for all involved. It’s a win both for our clients and our audiences and more importantly it’s a win for the planet as a whole.