Bringing movies to music

This year’s Oppikoppi festival includes a lineup of documenrary films. MK Bushveld Cinema is a preview of the bigger Viza MusicFilm Festival that will be taking place in Jo’burg later this year.

We spoke to Bill Botes, one of the festival organisers.

Why show music documentaries at a music festival? Is it the same audience? Do people who want to get drunk and listen to bands necessarily want to think about the music they are hearing?

It’s a perfect fit and the right festival for it to work at. Most people at Oppikoppi are there for the music—the party too but the music is what its always been about and the people who are there to only drink hardly ever leave their campsites. I expect a lot of the audience to be made up of festival veterans who drink less or hold it better but I think it’ll appeal to a lot of the youngsters too.

How did you go about choosing films for this festival—with Oppikoppi in mind, I mean. Or was it just a case of whatever was available?

For the inaugural festival the main criteria for the films was that they had to be great and also South African, but we are also aware of the audience’s taste as well as language demographic and wider age range attending (now that the festival has been in existence for 17 years)—so that played a part too.

Some of the films on the festival aren’t new. Do music documentaries have an expiry date, or do they remain relevant?
Due to the limited number of quality music documentaries coming out of South Africa we decided to choose from a wider range than only current titles, and, despite the existence of these films, this kind of platform has never existed, so for most attending this will be their first viewing of almost all of these films. The older ones like the James Philips documentary and Voelvry were selected due to their major historical significance, as those people and movements are a a huge part of why a festival like this even exists

What do you see as the highlight of this festival?
They’re all good, but i suppose Punk in Africa is brand new and a lot of people are excited to see it, but I think there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Have enough films been made about the SA music industry? I see there are many that focus on Afrikaans musicians. Why is this? Are there any obvious gaps in the market, stories that still need to be told?

I don’t think so and I think South Africa and the rest of the continent still has many stories to tell. I believe there’s more interest now than ever before because people abroad know so little about our music and movements associated with it. I figure more Afrikaans documentaries exist due to the larger market share they’ve enjoyed but I believe it’ll even out, and we’ll see more niche titles from all walks of African musical life

Tell me a bit about your plans for the other festival? What can people expect?

Our first international festival will take place in Johannesburg in October and we are considering a leg in Cape Town. Its called Viza and we’re looking at half international, half local content at the first festival, as well as a strong focus on education, and we have a mini music documentary making competition and will be hosting workshops with some of the acclaimed directors attending. We’ve partnered with, the world’s first (and foremost) music documentary hub. who’ve helped us secure some incredible titles across a wide range of genres including Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone; Anvil and The Silver Fez to name but a few, and we’ll be announcing a lot more soon. Local fans of great music documentaries can find out more from our website

Click here for more from Oppikoppi and the Bushveld Cinema festival

Lisa Van Wyk

Lisa Van Wyk

Lisa van Wyk is the arts editor, which somehow justifies her looking at pretty pictures all day, reading cool art and culture blogs and having the messiest desk in the office. She likes people who share her passion for art, music, food, wine, travel and all things Turkish. She can't ride a bike, but she can read ancient languages and totally understands the offside rule. Read more from Lisa Van Wyk

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