Townships make their own movies

More and more movies are being made in South Africa’s townships, but they do not often reach our big screens. These vibrant films are usually distributed on DVD on street corners, but are becoming an important part of growth in the South African film industry.

They tend to focus on the drama, violence and comic side of ordinary people’s lives. They are made by passionate, talented people on very small, almost non-existent budgets.

Among the first was Moruti Wa Tsotsi, produced by and starring musicians Chicco Twala and Senyaka. Another was Bhuti Madisa, written, produced and directed by unknown NZB Majola.

A sequel, starring Sibusiso Khumalo and Vusi Thanda, followed in April 2009. It showed that Majola and crew had succeeded in improving the quality of the production. It relies heavily on township comedy; a YouTube promo shows a hilarious scene in which a township thug revenges himself on Bhuti Madisa for stealing his girl.

‘Township’ movies getting recognition
The popularity of such township movies has brought them the attention and support of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF). The foundation recognises that they offer opportunities to a whole new crop of writers, directors, actors and technicians.


Individual filmmakers, too, are setting up initiatives. Amariam Pictures recently launched a filmmaking project in the township of Orange Farm. Producer Pascal Schmitz says Amariam aims to make four features by 2014, using local crew and talent.

“We shot a short film called Blood Tokolosh and used local crew and cast with the aim of shooting a feature film and creating opportunities for township filmmakers. Part of our plan is to finance young writers from the townships and partner them with established script editors to derive more locally relevant and indigenous screenplays.”

Yet young filmmaker Khululekile Banzi says talk of a township filmmaking sector does not really make sense. “For me it’s a South African film industry, with all its variations,” he said. “You do not hear Americans talking about a ‘hood film industry’ — it’s just a film industry with its different facets.”

Banzi has “produced two films that we funded from our [own] pockets and [that] were broadcast on Soweto TV. These films were shot in Orlando West, working with youth from that area, from fashion designers who dressed the actors to graphic designers.”

But a lot more must be done. “There are a lot of initiatives but the challenges are supporting relevant people and projects. I would like to see a paradigm shift in the mandated organisations.

They need to actually support and give assistance to grassroots initiatives. They should not just pay lip service, but actually put their money where their mouth is.”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

NFVF says ‘abrupt’ Encounters fest funding withdrawal was due process

Organisers were shocked when they were told they had lost their biggest funder, but the NFVF says the delivery of its decision was procedure

The character whisperer: Zandi Tisani

"Zandi Tisani’s aesthetic emerges, it seems, from an egoless part of her subconscious".

Buyel’Ekhaya Mtase: This land of ours shrouded in song

Amid the fratricidal political mayhem threatening to rip the soul of the country asunder, a music festival proposes that local is the national

The significance of being seen

The creators of a new show are bringing queer issues to the fore and into people’s houses to open LGBTI+ dialogue

How romcoms helped the local film industry feel the love

Romantic comedies have helped open the floodgates for the success of black films.

A car chase too far: What SA film can’t learn from Hollywood

A scriptwriting system named Sediba has scuppered creativity in cinema in South Africa.
Advertising

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday