Catch it at the Apollo

South African cineastes and cinephiles can catch up with already-released South African films they might have missed, as well as preview films not yet on our screens, at the Apollo Film Festival, which runs at the Apollo Theatre in the small Karoo town of Victoria West from October 2 to 5.

Among the features that will already have been seen in South African cinemas are the Afrikaans teen comedy Bakgat, gangster thriller Jerusalema, cricket biopic Hansie and Rayda Jacobs and Amanda Lane’s story of a Cape Muslim woman who develops an addiction to slot machines, Confessions of a Gambler.

Movies as yet unreleased on circuit include South Africa’s first stop-frame animation feature Tengers; John Kani’s TRC drama Nothing but the Truth; Milandu Sikwebu’s debut feature, Umalusi, about a young urban black man spiralling out of control; the historical love story Land of Thirst; and Michael Raeburn’s gritty adaptation, Triomf. (The latter will get an art-house release early next year.)

Perhaps the most interesting part of the festival is the wide range of short films (more than 20) that will be shown. They range in length from five to 25 minutes and cover a variety of topics.
This is a rare opportunity to see such works, often a view of upcoming cinematic talent.

Some deal with contemporary realities in South African life, such as Jo’burg by Thabo Wolaardt, about a newspaper vendor in the city, and Jacaranda Sunrise by Patrick Mofokeng, about a homeless man looking for work as a driver. Loaded by Mark Brunger is about an ex-con trying to put the past behind him. Muti by Martinus Lamprecht deals with the sensitive topic of muti killings, and Walk Like a Man by Asivhanzhi “Asi” Mathaba is about a young man who hopes to study law but finds himself in a dodgy position.

Perhaps most unusual are Shameela by René Spies, a musical about a young Muslim woman, and two animated shorts, Ungratefulness by Erik Kruger, a mythic tale about snake and man, and Agenda by Dirk Grobbler, a “junkmation” story of a high-level meeting disrupted by the tea girl.

Stephen de Villiers takes on history in Commando, set during the Boer War, and At Thy Call by Christopher-Lee dos Santos deals with the military in apartheid South Africa. Cutting Silence by Reina-Marie Loader deals with female genital mutilation in North Africa. Sankambe Shake by Martin Seen is a tale about a cow that produces strawberry-flavoured milk. Uhambo by Mthuthuzeli Cuba is a “tradional tale” about a young Zulu warrior.

There is also a wealth of documentaries on show. Cultural issues are dealt with in Akekho Ugogo (Grandma’s Not Home), about kwaito clubbing in Durban, and in Hip Hopera, about two young music stars, one an Afrikaner and the other from the Cape Flats.

Other documentaries look into our tortured past: Betrayed is about the South African border war and Breaking the Line is about rugby’s first non-racial team. Social and political issues are dealt with in documentaries such as The City that Kills Somalians, while Inanda, My Heritage focuses on one particular area of KwaZulu-Natal with a fascinating history and Kwamashu: Still My Home looks at Durban’s oldest township. Uit My Kop Uit traces a year in the life of a rural village, Urban Cowboy is about an ex-crook who learns to work with horses and Zulu Surf Riders shows that today’s surfers are not all blond, sun-bleached beach bums.

Many of the filmmakers will be present and involved in discussion with audiences. For more info call the festival hotline: 082 858 2015.

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