Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baraka (Blessing)

Two days after South Africa experienced violent attacks against it’s black foreign nationals, thousands of people were displaced into temporary shelters across the country.

After the attacks, the Western Cape community of Masiphumelele went to the nearby Soetwater refugee camp to publicly apologise, inviting their foreign nationals back home.

The film follows the returning foreign shop owners to the overcrowded community of Masiphumelele. As the shopkeepers rebuild their destroyed shops, the community struggles to resolve the root causes of the conflict.

Digibeta, 24 min, 2008
Directors: Omelga Mthiyane, Riaan Hendricks
Producers: Marianne Gysae, Don Edkins
Production: STEPS

The Burning Man - Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave

Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave

Photos courtesy of Shayne Robinson

Running Time: 24 min
Director: Adze Ugah,
Producer: Desiree Markgraaff;
Mozambican Associate Producer: Joao Ribero
Production Company: Bomb

Nigerian filmmaker Adze Ugah shares his journey to reclaim the identity of the man the world has come to know as “the Burning Man” - Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave.

This is not a hard hitting expose of the horrific burning of a man, but a gentle exploration by Adze as he tries to understand who Ernesto was, what the events were that led to him being set alight and burnt to death and how this tragedy could have happened in South Africa 2008.

Adze journeys to Ernesto’s village in Mozambique to meet his family and the people whom he loved. He explores the underlying curse of poverty and the fragile chords of humanity and dignity.

This film seeks to make the ‘burning man’ a real person to the audience, a man who represents the pain and suffering of millions of real people living in poverty - people who are both victims and perpetrators of this crime.

This is a poignant thought provoking film.

Adze Ugah is a Nigerian Filmmaker living in South Africa. He works as a director and assistant producer for BOMB.

Congo my Foot

Congo my Foot

The film tells the story of Tino La Musica, a Congolese band based in Cape Town. Their story starts as the band, all refugees from Congo, play at their regular weekly gig at Club La Reference in Long Street Cape Town. They live and rehearse in a rundown block of flats in Gardens, but the mood is hopeful. Until suddenly they are evicted from their block of flats, a week before the countrywide xenophobic violence was to scatter and displace approximately 30 000 refugees around the country. The double impact of these events cause the band to fall apart. Musicians have lost their home, their togetherness and even their instruments. The film follows the story of Mohammed, the producer of the band, as he accompanies his sister to a community centre in Summer Greens, where she has found shelter for herself and her baby, Mohammed has found a temporary squat in a rundown building in Woodstock, he doesn’t know where the rest of the band is. Gradually he goes in search of the band members, hoping that they can get together again to play their weekly gig. He finds Tantino, the lead singer at Cape Town station, selling cd’s. Mohammed convinces Tantino to sing something, but he stops after a short while, he cannot continue. Instead he leads the crew to a Congolese Cape Town, a make-shift mall offering everything from hairdressing to foreign exchange. The film continues to follow Mohamed as he looks for the rest of the band. He finds Jino, a dancer, working on a construction site at the 2010 stadium in Green Point, Musa, the drummer, has taken a job as a security guard in Sea Point. Ironically the displacement caused by xenophobic attacks has caused these people previously earning a living from music gigs, to head into the job market as a means to survive. Mohammed is trying to muster up support from the group to perform again. He is surprised to find the singer/dancer, Ladi, with a transformed appearance staying with Papi, the administrator of the band. Enthusiasm is low; Ladi has shaven his Big Star hairstyle and goatee, as a symbol of having left behind his old persona and Papi responds: “what we do best is singing and entertaining; now they just want us to die”.
The film follows their struggle to get it together again, searching for instruments and finding the will to sing and dance again. We hope the search will lead us to the missing guitarist, Zinga, who everyone lost contact with after the incident at DuNoon. He’s cell phone no longer works, so Mohamed will have to move from Refugee camp to camp to find him. He hopes he can have the group playing at Club La Reference again, and that they can continue building a future together.

The film is co-directed by Okepne Ojang, himself an immigrant from Cameroon, living in South Africa for the last 9 years. OJ himself is trying to find sense in all that has happened and trying to determine whether there is a future here for him and his South African wife and child. His presence and voice is felt in the film, as it is clear that his hope is tied in with the hope that Tino La Musica will play again.

He collaborates with Camera/Director Kyle O’ Donoghue and Dylan Valley and producers Miki Redelinghuys and Lauren Groenewald from Plexus Films.

Affectionately known as Alex


Affectionately known as Alex is a verite snap-shot of life in Alex in the preceding months
leading up to the outbreak of xenophobic labelled violence in May 2008, ending up with a graphic description of the chaos and consequences of the tragic events which then spread like wildfire across the country.

The violence has now died down, and it is easy to abhor the actions against foreigners, and nothing can excuse it, but was this violence a cause or a result of a community put under severe pressure by poverty, lack of resources and frustration at corrupt officials who “are around to collect votes but disappear shortly after they are elected”?

First time filmmaker Danny Turken captures the rising tensions in Alex in the first half of 2008, giving the viewer some indication of the complex motivations of Alex residents who have nowhere else to turn in the face of a national government that seems to have forgotten they exist.

The film does not provide all the answers, but instead will leave the viewer asking questions about the responsibility of a nation to its most venerable citizens.

Language: Zulu ,Xhosa & English(with sub-titles)
Running Time: 24’
Director: Danny Turken
Producers: Neil Brandt & Khalid Shamis
Exec Producer: Joyti Misrty
Editor: Danny Turken & Khalid Shamis
Produced by: Luna Films
In association with: University of the Witwatersrand & NYU
Music: Ambient Sound

Nowhere else to go

Nowhere else to go

On the weekend of May 17 and 18 2008, violent mobs attacked “foreigners” in the Jeppe area, robbed them of their possessions and displaced them from their homes. More than 2000 men, women and children sought refuge at the Jeppe Police Station.

By the Monday the police station had transformed itself into a refugee camp. People from almost 20 African countries, most having come to Joburg to escape hardship in their home countries, found themselves thrown together, struggling to meet the challenges of life in a bewildering and turbulent environment. Food queues, overflowing toilets, rain, fights over resources, fear, suspicion, cooperation and kindness. It was in this environment that the Peace Marshals were formed – 18 men and women from across the continent – who worked together - tirelessly - to keep Jeppe Police Station from exploding/imploding.

This 12 minute film was made by volunteers who worked closely with the Peace Marshals, and documents three exhausting weeks that no-one who was there will ever forget.

Producer Jonathan Timm
Director Tumi Moraka
Camera: Tumi Moraka and Jonathan Timm
Sound: Bafana Makhado, Bonginkhosi Masango, Sakhile Radebe
Edit: Tumi Moraka, Thabs Mahopeloa