All-women SA team for fest
ON the back of the #MeToo movement which underscores empowering women in the film industry, South Africa will be sending an all-female delegation to the Berlin International Film Festival.
Sisters Working In Film and TV otherwise known as Swift will send 21 women to the festival later this month for networking, securing funding and distribution.
Film-makers Hajra Cassim, Polani Fourie and Diana Keam from Cape Town will join the delegation. They said it was about time an all-women group was sent.
“It’s all about networking and for South African film-makers it’s a chance to really interact with international buyers and get our films out there. We also have a dedicated Swift stand and all the women will be on stand duty during the festival,” said Cassim.
“There’s really a resurgence of female stories that are top heavy with female protagonists in South African storytelling. It’s important that we tell these stories,” said Fourie.
Swift launched officially last year at the Durban International Film Festival with the mission of advocating for gender and race parity, recognising the intersectionality of women’s experiences in front and behind the camera and championing equal opportunities for women in the male-dominated film industry.
The organisation conducted a survey, which found that 78% of women in the film industry had been discriminated against because of their gender.
Cassim takes her first feature film Untouchable to the festival. The film is a melodramatic drama with a historical background that tells the story of an orphaned girl in India who is discriminated against because of her class. She decides to make a life-altering choice and boards a ship to Durban to work on a plantation.
“This girl falls in love with the plantation owner and it becomes a story of love and happiness.
“My own great grandfather made the same trip from India and because of that I am here today, so it’s sort of an inspirational true story in a way,” she said.
Keam will showcase her comedy Pineapple Rings as well as look for collaborations on her upcoming documentary project Don’t Be Late For My Funeral.
Set in the Karoo, Pineapple Rings tells the story of a sheep farmer’s estranged sister-inlaw who visits the family from London, in the process turning their lives upside down.
Her main focus, however, is on her documentary project.
“It’s the story of my ‘other mother’, Margaret Bogopa Matlala, who was my nanny when I was growing up. My mother died recently of advanced Alzheimer’s and to deal with her passing I went and spoke with my other mother.
“We travel together around the country visiting each other’s families and we show all the different aspects of the country and united the two families,” said Keam.
While the story touches on politics and race relations, she added, it’s not overtly political and focuses on the characters in order to give Matala and her family a voice.
Fourie will have four projects with her, which include the feature films The Last Highland Prince, The Missing Link and Unite – The Impossible Possibility with her fourth project a short silent film titled The Riddle.
“When I was growing up I wanted to be an animal conservationist so The Last Highland Prince allowed me the opportunity to explore that story and The Riddle was just something that I wanted to try – telling a story without the words,” she said.
The Last Highland Prince tells the story of Prince Duncan who causes a stir with his antics and is given an opportunity to right his wrongs when he travels to Africa on an anti-poaching military trip.
The Berlin International Film Festival runs from February 15 to February 21.
Untouchable follows a journey similar to Hajra Cassim’s own history.
Diana Keam and Margaret Bogopa Matlala filming Don’t be Late for My Funeral.