The List: Five films on the transition, selected by Sifiso Khanyile

Uprize! 

Directed by Sifiso Khanyile

I wanted to make a film that would, in some way, serve as a continuation of the conversation about liberation. Uprize! looks at South Africa’s protest culture from 1976 right up to the end of apartheid. This film was the perfect opportunity to reflect on the issues about  the outcomes of our liberation struggle that we don’t usually fully explore.

Miracle Rising

Directed by Brett Lotriet Best


This film focuses on the tensions of our transitional period. Because of its grandiose, “Hollywood” nature (having celebrities tell the South African story) and the sanitising of Nelson Mandela, it’s not my favourite. But I really liked how it made clear the roles different parties played in the negotiations, and also what the stakes were. There was a real threat of ongoing civil war and tensions were high. This film makes lucid the demands of the parties and what they were willing to compromise.

Behind The Rainbow

Directed by Jihan el-Tahri 

This was probably my biggest influence in thinking about what A New Country should feel like. It’s a well-researched, poignant look at the “Polokwane moment” and the unravelling of the ANC leading up to that point. A lucid, essayist documentary that really captures the political zeitgeist of its time.

Dean Slotar, director of Post-Apartheid Popcorn

Post-Apartheid Popcorn 

Directed by Dean Slotar

Filmed in South Africa for Dean Slotar’s masters thesis at NYU, this film asks questions about reconciliation and the idea of a new South Africa right as the country was preparing for its first democratic elections. It has a strong, distinct visual language, juxtaposing TV commercials depicting a “nonracial South Africa”, with images of township violence at the time.

The Negotiated Settlement 

Directed by Nhlanhla Mthethwa 

This documentary miniseries was released in 2018 by the SABC. It has the benefit of hindsight in dealing with the negotiations and how they’ve affected our society. I watched the film to look at the archive material used: Mthethwa is a very thorough archive researcher, as well as a talented producer.

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Sifiso Khanyile
Sifiso is a Producer/Director for Anaphora Films. He has worked as writer and content producer on SABC.

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