Apartheid’s legacy left marks of injustice and inequality throughout South African society. While the young generation still struggles with violence, discrimination and poverty, some have chosen a creative way to express their feelings, somewhere between rebellion and hope for a brighter future. Whether it is painting the city with graffiti, writing blues, singing opera or developing their own hip hop culture, these creators use the strongest weapon they have in their hands: art. Through the eyes of a few symbols of this emerging culture, the film portrays a whole country, embracing its history and its complexity. Seeking the source of these creators’ inspiration and depicting the impact of art on their lives and environment, the film paints a positive and revealing picture about the role of artists.
2012; South Africa, United States of Ame; Documentary, Music; 83 minutes; DCP, HDCAM-SR; 1:1.77 (16:9); 5.1 mix; Original Language: Afrikaans, English, Xhosa; Subtitles: English; Dubbed Versions: Afrikaans, Xhosa
Laura Gamse, Jacques de Villiers
Jacques de Villiers
Laura Gamse is a first time filmmaker and Fulbright Fellow from Arlington, Virginia, USA. She is the founder of Invisible Sessions, a series of musical meditations intended to increase worldwide exposure to indigenous artists, and the co-founder of Cape Town’s Abahlali Bikes Initiative. She is currently completing post-production on Brigidy Bram, a documentary about the Bahamian painter Kendal Hanna, and shooting The Misfit Economy, a film exploring innovation in the underground economies of India, China and Brazil.
Mar 18 – 18 (in competition)
Apr 05 – 06
Nov 26 – 26
Sep 30 – Oct 06
Aug 15 – 20
Jul 27 – 04
Jul 18 – 28
Jul 09 – 14
Jun 05 – 12
Mar 22 – 31
Mar 18 – 24 (in competition)
Oct 19 – Nov 02
AFRICA WORLD DOC. FILM FESTIVAL
May 16 – 16
AFRICA WORLD DOC. FILM FESTIVAL
Apr 27 – 27
Apr 20 – 20
CITY OF GOLD URBAN ARTS FILM FESTIVAL
Apr 19 – 19
Apr 14 – 14
Mar 22 – 22
Feb 24 – Mar 09
Feb 12 – 12
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ALL ROADS FILM FESTIVAL
This uplifting film leaves you with a sense of hope. You will be blown away.
Cease Fire Magazine
Laura Gamse and Jacques De Villiers beautifully capture the subtleties and complexities of individual lives and broader framework within which they operate.
The Creators captured the positivity coming out from all these young people beautifully.
The Huffington Post
Uplifting (…) A film you won’t soon forget
An Afro-blues artist originally from the rural Eastern Cape, Ongx was awarded first place in a national music competition in 2007, winning a record deal with Africa’s largest music production company. When the deal did not turn out as promised, Ongx must play music on the streets, wash dishes and connect illegal electricity in the townships in order to make ends meet. Fighting tooth and nail to sustain himself through his passion, Ongx puts a human face on a devastating social reality in a country with roughly 40% unemployed citizens. Ongx and his best friend Wara formed the band Warongx, singing in their traditional language of Xhosa while the world around them turns increasingly towards English pop music. Demonstrating pride in traditional African culture, Ongx and Wara expose the schism between their people’s roots and an increasingly westernized media landscape.
A street artist illuminating the forgotten townships haloing South Africa’s cities, Faith is a subversive activist fighting for public art and a mother painting a new world for her eleven year old son. Faith uses the 1955 ANC document The Freedom Charter to inspire murals questioning whether South Africa’s post-apartheid government kept its central goals at heart after ascending to power. Painting in townships with levels of violence surpassing all of sub-Saharan Africa, Faith infiltrates the culture on a level that allows her to merge seamlessly with the country’s impoverished majority. As an anonymous graffiti artist, the film views Faith through the eyes of her son, aka Cashril Plus: South Africa’s youngest genius.
“Spoek Mathambo is a slippery post-apartheid glam-rap prince from Soweto who is descended from distant African royalty, or Jewish, or both” (Fader Magazine). Spoek is one half of Sweat.X, a radical black/white duo from Soweto and Pretoria – arguably polar opposite locations in the world’s most polarized economy. Sweat.x exemplifies the growing population of South Africa that is tired of stale, on-the-sleeve activism. Their music leaves the didactic lectures in the past, forging the current, or maybe futuristic, South Africa. Using pump up/get down music to connect with impoverished communities in South Africa’s Karoo, Sweat.X takes reunification into their own hands, leaving overt political protest in the past in favor of a new way for a new age.
The younger sister of Mr. Devious, a hip hop activist killed amidst gang warfare in their hometown of Mitchell’s Plain, Blaq Pearl’s life is imbued with the struggle between a violent environment and a peaceful core. As a spoken word artist and performer, Blaq Pearl worked in a prison teaching creative writing to inmates where her brother taught before his untimely death. The same prison released her brother’s murderer just months after his incarceration. The killer now lives in the neighborhood next to Blaq Pearl’s family home. In the ten years prior to 2007, four times as many people were murdered in South Africa than Americans killed during the entire Vietnam War. In a country where violence threatens physically and psychologically, Blaq Pearl’s poetry meditates her situation at a level free from the chaos of the streets.
As an MC, b-boy and breakdancer from the seminal hip hop group Black Noise, Emile united a generation of youth during the fall of apartheid in the tumultuous eighties and nineties. Emile participated in anti-apartheid protests and school boycotts during his youth, getting shot at by police and witnessing the death of friends fighting to overthrow South Africa’s oppressive government. Emile now practices more subversive activism in his community, creating a conscious culture through breakdancing workshops, events and b-boy competitions.
Mthetho was raised by a single mother caring for him as well as dozens of his cousins. His father left behind one opera cd, which Mthetho listened to repeatedly while growing up. Soon, Mthetho discovered that he could sing Pavorrati’s arias by memory. Mthetho used his natural talent to teach his friends and support his family until his mother’s death from HIV/AIDS. He then fell into a pattern of crime, enduring multiple stabbings and a burning in gang wars and chance incidents. With a knife scar stretching the length of his cheek, Mthetho is now pulling himself out of gang life, using opera to balance his mind and support his family.