“Art should play an integral role in influencing urban areas but unfortunately there’s not enough funding to support artists or art institutions to be able to do that,”
The Wits Journalism Department hosted a screening of Miners Shot Down, a documentary on the shootings at Marikana, as part of a wider discussion on investigative journalism.
Miners Shot Down, a documentary by Rehad Desai, was screened this Tuesday at Wits University, at a discussion about the state of investigative journalism in South Africa.
The film depicts the Marikana massacre which followed after a prolonged strike by mineworkers for an increase in wages. The shootings, by the police resulted in the deaths of 34 miners.
With video clips of prominent people like photojournalist Greg Marinovich speaking of the aftermath, National Police Commissioner, Phiyega, former Intelligence Services Minister Ronnie Kasrils, the film questions the role of government in the massacre. According to Desai, the footage from Marikana is the unedited versions of the killings.
The documentary opens with a scene where the miners are being gunned down by police officers. The action and tension builds up in a chronological sequence, from what led to the strike, until the day of the massacre. The narrative is from the perspective of the miners which results in a poignant telling of a story that has been heard from a number of different perspectives.
Head Wits Journalism, Professor Anton Harber, told Wits Vuvuzela that he found the film powerful because it raised important questions about who was responsible for the massacre.
“What was shocking was not just the apparent callousness of the police, but the depth of the collusion between the mine managers and the police in the build up to the shooting,” Harber said.
Tebogo Mogole, a 4th year LLB student said, “The film was real; it exposes the truth which is obviously not coherent what we were initially told.”
The role of the media
The film also questions the coverage of events by journalists because it shows the contrast between what was initially portrayed to the public versus what actually happened.
James Nichol, a lawyer working pro bono representing the dead miners’ families at the Marikana judicial commission, was present at the screening and he highlighted the importance of investigative journalism in the case.
He said that the post-mortem results of the dead miners raised questions of the killings as there were 14 people shot in the back, yet the police maintain that it was an act of self-defence.
Harber said, “The film shows the importance of an investigative approach in that it gathered evidence to challenge the official view of what happened.”
Desai said that his intentions with the film were to set the record straight by giving truthful narratives and “moving people emotionally to incite help and ensure that a painful event like this does not happen again”.
The film was released last year and it has received several international awards such as an Aung San Suu Kyi Award for Best film and two South African awards: the Golden Horn Award for Best Documentary Feature and Achievement in Sound.
The film screening dates can be seen on their website: www.minersshotdown.com.
Watch the trailer of the movie here:
Starring: Nyaniso Dzedze, Wandile Molebatsi, Bontle Modiselle
Directed By: Scottnes L. Smith
Vuvuzela rating: 7/10
Directed by Scottnes Smith, Hear Me Move might leave some people confused about a few things. South Africa’s first dance film is set against the backdrop of Johannesburg’s neon city lights and townships. Throughout the film, however, you wonder how they get from one place to another, they seem to pass between the two places without effort.
This colourful and pacey film attempts to bring the story of Muzi (Nyaniso Dzedze), the son of a famous pantsula dancer to the screen. Muzi’s father who tragically died 12 years ago becomes the driving force of the film and the reason for many of Muzi’s woes and triumphs as a dancer.
The popular township dance style called sbujwa is highlighted in the movie, and with a love story added to the mix, the built-up passion fizzles to a barely-there kiss.
The directing and producing is almost clean in its execution, and the music refuses to go unnoticed in a great way. But its clear fundamental errors were made at a scriptwriting level.
The premise of the ‘lost son’ looking for his father’s presence is forced onto the viewer and you’re left exasperated by it all. A film driven by events rather than character.
The hard work put in by the dancers is evident, and their bodies reflect this. If there is something to really appreciate, it’s the amazing eye-candy.
However their too-toned bodies are too contemporary and too exercised for the laid back, swanky, almost-too-skinny vibe we know to be sbujwa dancing, the film fails to capture that authentic township feel.
The high-end dancing and the ‘underground’ settings for the competitions, with famous judges and hosts, feels unrealistic and copied from American movies.
Not all is lost however, some moments are golden and they bring the story back to life. Mbuso Kgarebe, who plays the antagonist Prince, is formidably intense and Khanyi (Bontle Modiselle) who plays Muzi’s love interest has the kind of legs that go on forever.
It’s a fun film to watch, because of the dance elements, and as a South African it might be your duty to watch but it scores low on originality and authenticity.
Thomas “Tom” Revington is a long-haired indie kid, who is a student by day and a rock star by night.
The fourth year film student is the guitarist and ukulele player in indie-bele band Shortstraw. His other talents include beat boxing and playing on an electric drum kit.
He lives in a commune in Emmarentia with other musicians, which allows him to jam whenever the urge arises.
Why did you choose to study film?
‘Cause it’s cool. No I’m joking. I wanted to do architecture, but apparently my maths marks weren’t good enough so film was the next best thing. Glad I did though, I get to experience life in its entirety and love the creative process and being able to produce a product at the end.
How did you get involved with the band Shortstraw?
I used to be in a band called The Uncut, but that ended. I just posted a Facebook status saying that I was bored and wanted to jam with people looking for a guitarist.
Jason Heartman, the band’s ex-guitarist, saw it and let the guys know and, yeah, two and a half years later, I’m still the guitarist.
You just went to Oppikoppi with the band. How was that?
It was awesome, dusty and crazy, but I managed to survive it. I particularly enjoyed the performances by Manchester Orchestra and Matthew Mole. He’s a buddy of ours. Also our show was crazy cool, just an amazing experience.
How do you juggle being in a band and being a full-time student?
Yo, it’s hard hey. I do that and I have to work to pay for rent and stuff. Last year my first day of exams coincided with the band’s first day of tour, so I had to fly back and forth a lot and did a lot of studying on planes.
But everything works out somehow.
Are girls very forthcoming with their advance because you’re in a band?
Ha ha ja, but I‘m just not that kind of guy. I have signed a boob though. There’s a lot of temptation I suppose, but I am single and I’m just really awkward anyway. My awkwardness generally just puts girls off.
What are some of your favourite spots in Braamfontein?