‘Giant in the world of art and film’ dies aged 55
ACCLAIMED Bo-Kaap film-maker, playwright and author Zulfah Otto-Sallies, who died yesterday aged 55, will be remembered as a chronicler of Cape Muslim life.
Otto-Sallies, who died from complications from a stroke, was buried yesterday at 3pm.
Her sister Naahid Nakidien described her as an “inspirational figure” who “loved seeing people excel”. “It was her spirit,” she said. Her sister, said Nakidien, kept an “open door policy”.
“Anyone could come to her and lay out their lives,” she said.
Otto-Sallies gained fame as the writer and producer of the famous musical drama Diekie vannie Bo-Kaap, which premiered in 1992 in Cape Town to rave reviews.
It was performed at the 1993 Grahamstown Arts Festival.
In 1997 she turned the play into a short book, which has gone through numerous print runs.
After her success with Diekie vannie Bo- Kaap, Sallies went on to work on a number of successful productions including the hit dance musical Rosa, Koesiester Mentality and Echoes from the Ghettos.
In the early 1990s she became involved in television.
In 1995 she became a director of the Community Video and Education Trust, and later served on the Cape Film and Video Foundation Board.
She was a curator at the Cape Town World Cinema Festival.
Some of her notable film works include the 2001 short film Raya and the 2004 documentary Through the Eyes of my Daughter, which premiered at the 2004 Berlin International Film Festival.
In 2006 Otto-Sallies made her feature film debut with Don’t Touch.
In the past few years she had been busy with a film version of Diekie vannie Bo-Kaap, her sister said.
Her children were set to continue with the project.
Nakidien said Otto-Sallies, who worked as a teacher in the 1980s, had recently returned to teaching languages at Prestwich Street Primary School.
“She had a way to inspire her kids to love Afrikaans,” she said.
“She taught there out of pure passion”.
The Documentary Film-makers Association of South Africa called her a “giant in the world of arts and cinema”.
“We salute you for your immense contribution to the field and for inspiring so many young film-makers, especially black film-makers to who you remain a beacon of hope,” it said in post on Facebook.
“Our thoughts are with her family, friends and many colleagues.”
In her work Otto-Sallies, who was born in Port Elizabeth and moved to Cape Town when young, drew on South African Muslim culture, and particularly the Bo-Kaap, for inspiration.
In October 2011, in an interview with the African Women in Cinema Blog, she talked of her love for the neighbourhood.
“It is my passion for Bo-Kaap, a place where I still reside, that makes waking up in the morning pure bliss,” she said
“Cinema from the developing world is not bound to western cinematic language,” she said in an interview in 2003. “It is a dynamic film convention which results in a totally new cinematic language.”
She is survived by her husband and three children.
Zulfah Otto Sallies