All-women SA team for fest

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - PEOPLE - LUKE FOLB

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.

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