Full Time City College Student, Part Time Filmmaker

By Seamus Geoghegan

There isn’t a subject that Willy Noumo Stephane works on which he isn’t passionate about. 

Born in Tiko, Cameroon, the 37-year-old filmmaker has recently won awards around the globe for his first documentary short film “Ta’a Fotso.” Now, he wants to continue his career here in San Francisco.

“Ta’a Fotso,” produced by 3R Productions, tells the story of Fotso Victor, a blind man raising his family in his hometown of Demdeng in Bandjoun, Cameroon. Fotso lost his vision in high school due to glaucoma and has been living without vision since.

Noumo spent two months following Fotso and his family, documenting his everyday life as a provider for his household. Fotso runs a cafeteria and has retaught himself how to harvest crops, cook, clean and fix up chairs, all while fully blind.

“The government doesn’t care about these people,” Noumo said. “And that’s one of the reasons that we are trying to show that society is counting on everyone. Whether you’re handicapped or not, you have a major role to play.”

Fotso created a council in Demdeng called the “Cercle De Reabilitation Et: De Promotion Des Handicapes,” (CERPHA), in order to help the underserved disabled community. 

“I was very happy that this film won lots of prizes,” Noumo said. “The movie won Best International Award at Studio City International Film Festival in 2023. We also won an outstanding achievement award at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival in 2023.”

Cameroonian Director Stephane Noumo documents the story of Victor Fotso, a resilient blind man, in his documentary short-film “Ta’a Fotso.” Photo courtesy of Willy Stephane Noumo.

The piece has won best short documentary film at the Handifilm festival in Rabat, Morocco. In July of last year, it won the Best International Documentary Film award at the Festival de Bretagne in Locronan, France. The film has also been selected to feature at the Cameroon International Film Festival taking place from Apr. 22 to 27, in Buea, Cameroon.

The documentary film has also received a certificate of special congressional recognition from congressman Ro Khanna of the U.S. House of Representatives, during the Silicon Valley African Film Festival in 2023. 

Noumo plans to continue his career in San Francisco, while taking courses at City College.

“I’m studying journalism and photojournalism because photojournalism [will help] with things like documentary films,” Noumo said. “I already have three projects in the pipeline that I’m working on.”

Those projects include a documentary on Nancy Pelosi, City College’s Journalism Department Chair and founder of El Tecolote Juan Gonzales, and the ongoing mental health crisis here in San Francisco.

“Ta’a Fotso” is scheduled for release soon on AVOD, Amazon, Tubi, Roku, Vimeo, IBM, YouTube, and Crackle.

Seamus Geoghegan

they/them’s the facts

One thought on “Full Time City College Student, Part Time Filmmaker

  • Nadia Ngatchou

    Bravo et merci pour cette belle leçon.Ce n’est pas parce-que nous avons un andicape que l’on doit se sentir inférieur ou se laisse abattre.Nous pouvons vivre une vie exemplaire et épanouie avec notre andicape.Merci pour ce message

    Translated from French to English using Google Translate: Bravo and thank you for this great lesson. It is not because we have an andicap that we should feel inferior or let ourselves be defeated. We can live an exemplary and fulfilled life with our andicap. Thank you for this message.


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