VIFF 2013 notes: South Africa emerges on-screen
A new picture of South Africa emerges in two crowd-pleasing comedies conveying that nation’s multiracial complexities. Roberta Durrant, winner of a lifetime-achievement award and many other prizes for her ongoing work in South African television, thinks her new feature represents a coming wave of post-Apartheid entertainment.
The delightful Felix, about a township boy on a posh scholarship who becomes a wiz on the saxophone—over his strict mother’s objections—screens October 5 and 8, with the director in attendance.
“The movie opened here last Friday,” Durrant said, calling from her home in Cape Town, “and the response was brilliant. It’s a huge challenge getting people to see South African films, especially in English. But it’s the rainbow nation we’re targeting.”
Because there was no theatrical infrastructure in the township system, black audiences aren’t familiar with the moviegoing experience, the filmmaker asserts. “Something like five percent of the overall public attends cinema, but that’s been changing since we’ve been getting more support from government,” she said. “We’re 20 years into democracy, and you have a whole generation of born-frees moving away from the past.”
Films in Afrikaans, like French-Canadian efforts here, already have a loyal audience at home. And Fanie Fourie’s Lobola, showing October 2 and 9, tests that audience with the tale of a white Johannesburg schlub who asks out a black township beauty on a dare from his racist pals—and then falls for her, big-time.
Both family-aimed movies are overflowing with music. Felix offers stunning, township-inflected jazz, while Fanie casts a satirical eye on synth-pop. Apparently, there are still some reasons to dance.