Monday, September 22, 2014

PACSA Film & Arts Festival For Pietermartizburg

Theme:  People live here … 20 years into democracy

Under the theme of “People Live Here … 20 Years into Democracy”, the annual Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) Film and Arts festival is set to showcase a stimulating and highly topical range of films, art, poetry, music and debates that celebrate the lives and power of ordinary South Africans, 20 years after the first democratic elections.

Hosted in collaboration between PACSA and the Alan Paton Centre and Struggle Archives at the University of KwaZulu Natal, the festival runs from the evening of Friday 26 September until Sunday 28 September, with all sessions being held on the local campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Now in its fifth year, and a firm item on the city’s cultural calendar, the PACSA festival has a strong local flavour, with some of the films on offer having been made in and around the city by a variety of local residents.
Films with a national focus – “compulsory” viewing for all South Africans – include the highly acclaimed Miners Shot Down directed by Rehad Desai, which tells the story of the 2012 Marikana Massacre from the perspective of the miners; and Crumbs: Toppling the Bread Cartel, written and directed by local filmmakers Dante Greeff and Richard Finn Gregory, about one man’s bid to expose collusion among some of the country’s biggest bread manufacturers. Local “bread hero” Imraahn Mukaddam, the former distributor at the centre of the story, and current representative of the National Consumer Forum (now Consumer Fair), will be at the screening to share his experiences.

PACSA director Mervyn Abrahams said this year’s festival theme – which acknowledges a creative debt to the title of Athol Fugard’s play People are living there – was an attempt to consolidate and build on the transformative potential of last year’s theme, “Reclaiming our power … imagining possibilities”, by highlighting and affirming the existence of multiple repositories of power in our young democracy.

“Twenty years on, the grand narratives of democracy threaten to render the ordinary person both invisible and irrelevant. But at a local level – in the places where they live – men and women are claiming the space to be, to think and to act,” he said. “Despite their remove from macro-level politics, and despite the socio-economic challenges faced in their daily lives, ordinary people are making choices to claim and advance their own power.”
“Thus, the festival offers a range of opportunities for residents of the city to learn more about their fellow South Africans – the people living here – and hopefully inspire and empower positive forms of social action,” he said.

Festival Launch
Well-known Daily Maverick contributor, political analyst and talk radio host Stephen Grootes will be “in conversation” on the festival theme at the launch which takes place on the evening of Friday 26 September in the Colin Webb Hall on the Pietermaritzburg campus of UKZN. An exhibition of the evocative works of Cedric Nunn, one of South Africa’s best known photographers, will also form part of the launch. At the conclusion of the festival the photography exhibition will move to the Msunduzi Museum where it will be exhibited under the same theme, “People live here … 20 years into democracy”, from October 3 to October 31.


In addition to CRUMBS: Toppling the Bread Cartel and Miners Shot Down, the film line-up includes a PACSA production aptly entitled UN-A-FOOD-ABLE, which explores the burning issue of food affordability in Pietermaritzburg and documents the real struggle for food among thousands of households in the city. The issue of food security is also addressed in a UKZN film entitled Food Insecurity which shines a telling and empathetic light on the plight of hungry UKZN students and the aftermath of hunger, including high failure and dropout rates, the “sugar daddy” syndrome, HIV and more.

There are also two community films. One is Kwenzakalani? Wa shusiswa, wa dingiswa wangaxolelwa!, a docu-drama made in Sobantu by students of PACSA’s film workshop series FilmCraft, which explores the challenge of reintegrating criminal offenders back into the community.

The other is Justice Switched Off:  the Electricity Action Group’s struggle for dignity, which documents the Msunduzi-based action group’s struggle to get the municipality to keep its promises to provide access to sufficient and affordable electricity that ensures a dignified life for the city’s poorest citizens.


On the music side, look out for local Afro-jazz group Soulful Sound and Zazi Mncube, part of the Pietermaritzburg-based ZTM group.


For poetry and rap lovers, there are appearances by four-member “urban poetic soul” group Many Moore; Antidote, who is known for adding soul into his rap lyrics and now works with live bands; Durban-based artist Xoliswa who was nominated as the Best Female Poetry performer in the Original Material Awards in 2012; and PMB-based poets Microphone Mthembu and Menzi Sibiya.

Film-making workshop
The festival offers budding film-makers an opportunity to learn practical skills as NGO “Jetty in a Sea of Stories” returns this year to run its popular film-making workshop. Jetty aims to empower people and communities, especially those marginalised from mainstream media, to tell their own stories. The workshop is free and is open to beginners. All you need is a video camera (a cell phone camera is fine), pen and paper.

Children’s art workshop
There will be an art workshop for children from invited schools.


Friday, 26 September
Launch of the PACSA Film & Arts Festival and Cedric Nunn Photography Exhibition
Venue: UKZN Colin Webb Hall
6 pm:               In conversation with Stephen Grootes on the festival theme: “People live here….20 years into democracy”
Light refreshments will be served. 
RSVP: Sonia Nunthoolall at or 033 342 0052 by 24 September 2014
The Cedric Nunn Photography Exhibition can be viewed all weekend in the Colin Webb Hall

Saturday, 27 September 2014
Film Festival
Venue: DSLT Lecture Room
Time: 11:30 - 12:30pm
Venue : Colin Webb Hall
Time: 15:30 - 16:30pm
Miners Shot Down charts the seven days leading up to the 2012 Marikana bloodshed, much of it in real-time. The film uncovers disturbing new footage showing a line of police, with armoured vehicles in the background, firing live ammunition on a crowd of miners who are moving in a huddle towards the police line – challenging the police narrative that they acted in self-defence. The documentary utilises compelling, previously unseen police, security and TV footage, some of which was submitted to the inquiry into the massacre, which is under way.

CRUMBS: Toppling the Bread Cartel
Venue: Council Chambers
Time: 11:00 - 12:00pm and 16:30 - 17:30pm
The David-versus-Goliath story of Imraahn Mukaddam, the bread reseller who blew the whistle on bread price-fixing in South Africa. The documentary explores the turmoil Imraahn faced taking on the corporate food machine. Crumbs works at the frontline in the moral struggle between greed versus humanism. The documentary explores the legal, financial and personal turmoil of Imraahn’s fight against the corporate food machine in the quest for accountability and social justice.

Discussion with Imraahn Mukaddam from the National Consumer Forum on the film Crumbs: Toppling the Bread Cartel
Venue: Council Chambers
Time: 12:00 - 13:00pm

UN-A-FOOD-ABLE: When food prices increase, the poorest suffers most
Venue: Council Chambers
Time: 10:00 - 10:45am
Produced by PACSA and Jetty in a Sea of Stories, UN-A-FOOD-ABLE is a documentary that explores the impact of the rising cost of food on the poor. We are producing more food today than ever before yet more and more people are going hungry because they simply can’t afford to eat. When other living costs are added, the increased cost of food starts to hurt. The film includes interviews with activists and candid stories from three families in Pietermaritzburg who share their daily battle to put food on the table. Also featured is the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) who discuss the evidence of their ‘food price barometer.’ Ultimately, the film asks the question: should the unaffordability of food be considered a social injustice?

Venue: DSLT Lecture Room
Time: 14:00 - 14:30pm
Scripted, filmed and directed by members of Sakhubuntu Youth Development, Kwenzakalani is a short docu-drama produced as part of the FilmCraft series of workshops hosted by PACSA. Set in Sobantu, the oldest township in Pietermaritzburg, the film explores the challenge of reintegrating criminal offenders back into the community. It follows the character of uGogo who returned to Sobantu in 2014 after an eight-year prison sentence for abduction and mutilation. Rumours and fears of her association with muti, mutilations, witchcraft and the disappearance of local children result in her being forced to leave. This film explores the victim-offender-dialogues and the need to hear all points of view in order for healing to begin.

JUSTICE SWITCHED OFF: The Electricity Action Group’s Struggle for Dignity.
Venue: DSLT Lecture Room
Time: 14:45 - 15:15pm
In 2010 the Msunduzi Municipality in Pietermaritzburg passed a resolution to provide 200kWh of free basic electricity to struggling households, but households on prepaid electricity meters, the poorest citizens in the city, were excluded. An advocacy group was formed in response to lobby the local government to provide free quantities of electricity to all households on the prepaid meter system. Justice Switched Off narrates the struggle of the Electricity Action Group, which started with humble requests for the municipality to keep its promises, and developed into a powerful collective, organising locally and in solidarity, demanding that nobody be denied access to services because they were unable to pay.

Venue: Council Chambers
Time: 14:00 - 15:00pm
A telling and empathetic depiction of the plight of students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. This documentary reveals the repercussions of student hunger: high failure and dropout rates, the “sugar daddy” syndrome, HIV, and much more. However, light shines in the darkness, and a nutritious students’ food garden is an example. The screening of the documentary has already struck a chord with a variety of professional bodies and earned newspaper coverage. The Disciplines of Agriculture and Psychology at UKZN have subsequently started using this film for teaching purposes.

Film-making Workshop
Venue: Colin Webb Hall
Time:  10 am to 2 pm

Jetty in a Sea of Stories presents a FREE FilmCraft workshop, which is open to beginners. Participants will learn filming techniques and will need to carry a video camera (a cell phone camera will do), pen and paper. “Jetty in a Sea of Stories” works with organisations and communities to empower them in telling their stories across various media, including video, books and exhibitions. Jetty’s practice and its work seeks to enhance the communication processes of those marginalised from mainstream media and new media technology. It is working towards the creation of a society in which all people have equal access of expression and where their dignity and human rights can be protected.

Democracy through Art (by invitation) :
Time: 09:00 - 13:00pm
Venue: Chemistry Outside Lecture Room

The workshop is aimed at the development of the youth through the arts. The project will start with the 45 students from local KZN schools getting to know each other. There will be a short slideshow and thereafter the students will be encouraged to form their own opinions on what they believe the theme for the festival means to them. Thereafter the students will be divided up into groups where they will work to compose short stories which communicate their views accompanied by illustrations they have drawn. The goal of the workshop is to allow the youth a platform to vision a democratic South Africa.

Jazz Festival 2014
Venue: Colin Webb Hall
Time: 19:00 - 21:00pm

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Church Service
A service led by Rev Janet Trisk and integrating the festival theme: People live here . . . 20 years into Democracy
Venue: St Alpheges Church, corner of Connaught Road and Alan Paton Avenue
Time: 7:30am

Poetry and Music Session
Many Moore; Antidote; Xoliswa; Microphone Mthembu; Menzi Sibiya
Host: Mxolisi
Venue: Colin Webb Hall
Time: 13:00pm

This edition by +Fred Felton 

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