Changing Reels in South Africa
The majority of South African films to come out of the country in the years since 1994, the year of the first democratic elections in the country, have largely focused on the turbulent history during apartheid and the years since as the country, its government, and its people struggle to find steady ground. Plagued by staggering crime rates, poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic, creating a strong film industry in South Africa has not been a top priority. But recent films, such as the Oscar-winning film Tsotsi and the innovative musical U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (based on the opera, Carmen, updated and set in a South African township and sung in Xhosa) have brought an international spotlight to South African film.
A new film continues the trend of highlighting South African talent. Bunny Chow, directed by up-and-coming director John Barker, tells the story of twenty-something South Africans weaving their way through relationships, drugs and friendships. Barker explains that in South Africa, Bunny Chow is the name of a traditional South African dish: a mash of vegetables, spices and meat all poured into a bread bun. By titling his first feature film Bunny Chow, he wanted to represent the mish-mash of cultures, races and languages that is South Africa today, particularly in Johannesburg where the film begins.
The film follows the story of four comedians traveling to a popular music festival called Oppi Koppi. It is at times a road-trip film, a love story, and a coming-of-age narrative. The main character, David, played by talented David Kibuuka struggles to find love, a career and his comedic voice. His companions on the trip: Joey, Cope and Kagiso have their own obstacles to face. Kim Engelbrecht as Kagiso’s naïve girlfriend is stunning. The style of dialogue and cinematography feels so natural that it is easy to forget that the film essentially portrays the complexities of being a young white, black or coloured South African today. Read the full article at www.capitalmag.com.