Monday, May 31, 2004

David Kramer on why he did Karoo Kitaar Blues

While I was studying at Leeds University in the 1970’s I read about the work that the Lomax family did in the Mississippi Delta; searching out and recording the blues singers in the early part of the twentieth century. It gave me the idea that I should do the same with the music of the farm labourers from my region.

But unfortunately I never followed through. I was easily distracted and intimidated by the political climate that existed at the time. A young white man seen in the company of farm labourers in the mid nineteen seventies was not going to go unnoticed or undisturbed. But the idea stayed with me and this roots Afrikaans music fascinated me.

The more I thought about it the more I realised that it was part of our hidden history –that the origins of Afrikaans and Afrikaans folk music had been erased by the politics of apartheid South Africa. This insight played a large part in the development of my writing and singing style.

When I released my first album, Bakgat it was banned by the SABC. I was told: Jy mors met Die Taal. So nearly thirty years later while making a documentary with Jan Horn, I meet with musicians who still play remnants of “die ou musiek” and I am excited and exhilarated to find that it still exists and that there are still people who remember how to play and sing. I invite some of them to join me on stage at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees and the response is overwhelming. The musicians and their music touches people in a way that I have not experienced.

Read more

Read a review of Karoo Kitaar Blues the documentary.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

SA woman's films represented at major film festivals

Shelley Barry's first two films Entry and Voice/Over shot in film and video respectively, will be screened at the 28th San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival next month and at the City University of New York's film festival in October.

American Film Company to Release Film by South-African Film-Maker

United States company Eclectic DVD has announced the release of Tokyo Elegy for 15 June 2004. Tokyo Elegy was written and directed by controversial South African film-maker, Ian Kerkhof, in 1999 and shot in Tokyo, Japan."

Friday, May 28, 2004

Karoo Kitaar Blues

Posted by Hello

Hannes Coetzee and David Kramer 
This documentary follows Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club formula. An acclaimed musician, (David Kramer) sets off to find the last players of a lost and dying form of music (Die Ou Musiek - the old music) played by virtuoso marginalised geriatrics.

But the formula works. The film captures a forgotten part of South Africa and culture. Kramer seems genuine and engaging. Read more about his reasons for doing the documentary.

The remote communities and characters he meets are facinating and nothing if not idiosyncratic. The camera work and editing, is at times conventional. (Standard mini bus driving past a town sign-post shots etc.) But also at times it observes with care and captures intimate moments. A good documentary.

Could this documentary together with Ingrid Jonker documentary signal the birth of theatrical released documentaries in South Africa? We do hope so.

Karoo Kitaar Blues (2000)

Director: Liza Keys

Actors: David Kramer; Hannes Coetzee; Jan Cloete; Jan Willems; Dawid ‘Loks’ van Rooi; Helena Nuwegeld; Siena Mouers; Jan Mouers; Koos Lof; Tokas Lodewyk

A synopsis of the film can be found here.

The Wooden Camera

Posted by Hello

Madiba and Sipho 
South African film output has been very limited in subject matter and creativity. Often it's been dogged by having to deal with South Africa's complex history and issues of race. In so doing it was often done literally in naive and simplified terms. So it was with allot of hope and trepidation for something better when I attended the inaugural London South African film festival.

The Wooden Camera is set in Kayelitsha, a township close to Cape town, after the end of Apartheid. Two thirteen-year-old kids- Madiba and Sipho - play along the railway line. A train passes by. A dead man is tossed from the train and rolls to their feet. His lifeless hand clutches an attache case. Inside, the boys find a gun and a video camera. Sipho takes the gun and Madiba the camera. Their destinies are sealed.

Ntshavheni Wa Luruli's the Wooden Camera deals with race. It has done so without the usual cliches. Wa Luruli's film has a light touch and the story flows effortlessly. It would seem that he likes people. Throughout the movie he motivates and establishes some sympathy for almost all the character's actions.

Some criticism. The scene where Sipho is shot could have been done more dramatically. Wa Luruli had created the requisite sympathy and dread for Sipho. But the moment he was shot was revealed in an instant (on a TV broadcast) and some of the drama lost.

Was it necessary to give Estelle's father a pretext for being racist/ classist? Why not just portray him a bigot and leave the audience to think about why he was this way? The explanation offered was just too easy.

All in all a good movie, with an excellent concept, well shot, and good acting performances. It looked so effortless.

Format: 35mm
Year of Production: 2003
Directed by Ntshaveni Wa Luruli

Writing credits
Yves Buclet written by
Peter Speyer co-writer

Jean-Pierre Cassel - Mr. Shawn
Dana de Agrella - Estelle
Innocent Msimango - Sipho
Lisa Petersen - Louise
Junior Singo - Madiba

Produced by
Olivier Delahaye - producer
Ben Woolford - co-producer

Cinematography by
Gordon Spooner

Film Editing by
Kako Kelber

Casting by
Nathalie Cheron
Moonyeen Lee

Production Design by
Jean-Vincent Puzos

Sound Department
Thomas Desjonquères - sound editor

Other crew
Edouard Dubois - music consultant

A synopsis of Ntshavheni Wa Luruli's charming second film can be found here. | Watch out for 'e'Lollipop 2'!

In 'e'Lollipop', Ndebele's character, Tsepo, gave his life to save his friend Jannie, played by Knox. In real life, the roles were reversed. Three years ago, Knox, together with Andre Pieterse, 'e'Lollipop's writer and producer, went on a nationwide search to track down his childhood friend and co-star. They found Ndebele in a derelict flat in Hillbrow, missing teeth and weighing a gaunt 48kg. Bitter and angry, Ndebele had descended into a life of crime and drug addiction.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony

Amandla! A documentary unearths the story of an extraordinary unsung hero, composer and activist Vuyisile Mini.

The dancing President in Amandla! Posted by Hello

This 90 minute documentary film celebrates the role of music and song in the struggle for liberation in South Africa. An eight year labour of love, the HBO/SABC backed documentary AMANDLA!, was co-produced with New York based Kwela Productions.

AMANDLA! won two awards at the Sundance Festival - the Freedom of Expression Award and the Audience Award.

Winner of the Audience Award and Freedom of Expression Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, AMANDLA! tells the story of black South African freedom music and reveals the central role it played in the long battle against apartheid.
The power of song to communicate, motivate, console, unite and, ultimately, beget change: that ideal, gloriously realised, lies at the heart of director Lee Hirsch's inspiring feature film documentary AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR-PART HARMONY.

The first film to specifically consider the music that sustained and galvanised black South Africans for more than 40 years, AMANDLA!'s focus is on the struggle's spiritual dimension, as articulated and embodied in song. It is unlike any other film yet made on the subject of apartheid, and an electrically expressive portrait of South African life then and now.

In form as well as content, AMANDLA! breaks new ground. Beginning with its dynamic opening title sequence, AMANDLA! harnesses the visual and sonic power of cinema to create a powerfully emotional viewing experience. Vivid, colour-drenched cinematography flows like song, complementing an innovative narrative that combines original footage, breathtaking musical numbers, archive and haunting re-enactments to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit throughout the decades-long struggle for freedom in South Africa. Nine years in the making, the HBO/SABC backed AMANDLA! was shot in South Africa, co-produced by South African-based Bomb and the New York-based Kwela Productions. It features interviews with a diverse range of individuals, who candidly share their experiences of struggle and song.

The film brings dozens of freedom songs to the screen, drawing upon original recordings and thrilling, sometimes impromptu live performances by celebrated South African musicians and non-professionals alike. Threaded throughout the film, these rich and beautiful anthems take viewers on an extraordinary journey through the spiritual and physical reality of life under apartheid.

"Song is what keeps us alive." - Lindiwe Zulu (Freedom Fighter)

"one of the best films so far this year at Sundance …" - The New York Times

" … from despair to victory, the South African Documentary has the widest range of emotion of any film at this year's Sundance …" - Roger Ebert

Read more on the making of Amandla!

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

BBC Radio 3 - JJC on kwaito and hiphop

BBC Radio 3, JJC takes a look at South Africa's Kwaito and Hip Hop scene, including Skwatta Camp and H20.

BBC World Service | Rhythms of the Continent

Grant Clark goes to Johannesburg to explore the origins of Kwaito music and find out why it has become the voice of urban youth in the new South Africa. | The 'vuvuzela': instrument of SA's soccer passion features The 'vuvuzela'
The loud, proud instrument of SA's soccer passion...

Lucky Dube - dublin music - dance

Lucky Dube - An Irish biography of South Africa's best known reggae star.

Monday, May 24, 2004

South Africa's movie, music capitals hit fast-forward

An article about the creative industries in Joburg and Cape Town, positing that Cape Town is the film hub (with 32 productions last year) and Jo'burg the music hub.


The Insomaniak se droomalmanak album cover  Posted by Hello
Vanaand is ek ’n vrywilige insomniak en skryf ek met ’n bitter-soet heimwee. Ek het pas die erg positiewe resensies van Andries Bezuidenhout se debuut-CD op LitNet gelees.

[A review in Afrikaans about Andries Bezuidenhout's debut album - INSOMANIAK SE DROOMALMANAK]

Here is an English interview with Andries about the album.

Buy Insomaniak here
For Andries's band see Die Brixton Moord en Roof Orkes's website.