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CinemAfriq: Nabantwa Bam'

Stories from Real South Africa


Volume 1 - Cinderella of the Cape Flat 

Directed by Jane Kennedy, Produced by Penny Gaines. 54 mins. 2004.

Everyday the working class Colored women in the garment industry of the windswept flats around Cape Town toil anonymously to make clothes so that other women will look beautiful. Invariably they cannot afford these garments themselves. But for one day a year they come out in all their glory at the Annual Spring Queen pageant. The pageant is created by the workers and their trade union to bring their families together for an evening of solidarity and fun. After working for weeks on glamorous costumes, which one will be queen for a day? Set against the preparation for the 2003 pageant, this film explores the lives of working women and celebrates them as creators of beauty. Although the end of apartheid has not taken away the drudgery of repetitive factory labor, this pageant shows working class women inventing their own lively folk culture.

Volume 2? - Hot Wax

Directed by Andrea Spitz, Produced by Trish UrquhartLeft-Eye Productions. 2004. 50 mins.

Ivy is a big, bubbly black woman who managed to run her own beauty salon surreptitiously during the dark days of apartheid. She lives in Alexandra, a restless and poor township, while her white, mostly-elderly clients live in the tree-lined suburbs of Johannesburg. In her salon, she is part beautician, long-time friend, lay counselor, and honest commentator to her customers. While she masks her clients' imperfections, she also peels away layers of difference separating the races. It can be easily pointed out that Ivy essentially enjoys the intimacy of a domestic servant, while her white clients maintain their economic privileges and know little about Ivy's private world. But since apartheid's end, Ivy owns her own shop and now meets her clients on an equal footing.


Volume 3 - Belonging

Directed by Khetiwe NgcoboMinky Schlesinger, Produced by Khetiwe NgcoboRene Williams. 2004. 53 mins.

Born into exile as the daughter of political émigrés, Kethiwe Ngcobo and her family returned to their longed-for homeland, South Africa in 1994. Now ten years later, Kethiwe, a hip, young woman with a British accent finds herself struggling to find her place in the new South Africa. Hoping to reconcile the warring strands of her identity, Khetiwe seeks healing in her Zulu traditions. At the same time, her sister refuses to participate in any ceremonies as meaningless rituals. Khetiwe is not alone in her journey to find belonging. The country is also in the process of finding itself. This is a personal and honest look at one person's quest for identity.

Volume 4 - Umgidi (Shadow Dancing)

Directed by Sipho SingiswaGillian Schutte, With Sipho Singiswa, Produced by Gillian Schutte, 2004. 75mins. 

When Sipho, a former Robben Island inmate for 5 years gets a call from his father to help convince his reluctant younger brother to get circumcised, he procrastinates. Then he gets an anguished letter from this brother Vuyo, informing him that he finally discovered he was adopted at birth. Vuyo is in crisis and is convinced that Sipho knows the truth about his biological parents. Sipho returns to Cape Town to help his brother. Sipho was covertly circumcised in the Robben Island prison but failed to perform the full ceremony so he decides to do so now. Meanwhile, Vuyo announces that he is gay which throws the family into confusion. On the eve of the circumcision ceremony, he attempts suicide. This ‘acting out’ effectively deflects attention from Sipho’s ceremony. The film explores a family and a country trying to embrace both modernity and tradition. While Sipho struggles to help his brother accept his roots, his brother desperately wants to escape them. This extraordinary film is made even more complex by the fact that it is filmed by Sipho’s wife who happens to be a white woman, both outsider and insider in this tight-knit family drama.



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Rachel Dwyer
she/ her
African Studies Library
6th floor,
Mugar Memorial Library
Mon-Fri 9am - 5 pm
Subjects: African Studies