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Updated Jan 31, 2020

A new documentary titled Film School Africa focuses on the power of filmmaking to heal generations-deep wounds and grapple with the legacy of historical oppression. The film follows Katie Taylor, a Los Angeles-based casting director who travels to South Africa to teach black youth in Kayamandi and Strand filmmaking. Instead of being a dime-a-dozen promotional piece for a foreign-aid organization or non-profit, the documentary quickly switches focus to the lives and difficulties faced by these South African youth, and shows how moviemaking offers a way out of entrenched cycles of poverty, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and domestic abuse, which are all too common in South Africa’s poorer townships.

Film School Africa initially follows Taylor during her first visit to South African, when she taught a six-month filmmaking program to a few kids in Kayamandi who had expressed an interest. She leaves, only to return later. The community schools she started, first in Kayamandi and then in Strand, suburbs of Stellenbosch and Cape Town, respectively, became places for students to express themselves and deal with their traumas on their own terms, a form of art therapy. 

At the start of the film, filmmaking is seen by the poorer township residents as a “white” thing, a luxury field detached from their daily experiences. And yet, the community schools Taylor helped start became recruiting grounds for scholarship students for the Film Department at the Pneumatix Performing Arts Academy, which created the Film School Africa graduate program.

Viewers watch as the first four students of the new program—Tsakane “TK” Shikwambana, Juan van der Walt, Sihle James and Repholositwe “Repo” Mpitsa—grow into a family unit as they learn the tricks of the trade needed to enter South Africa’s booming film industry. The students come from vastly different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, like Juan van der Walt, a white Afrikaans student who initially locks his car and looks around warily while filming in the mainly black neighborhood of Kayamandi. By the end of the film, Van der Walt is walking those same streets alone, carrying his camera openly, embracing the people and saying he loves Kayamandi.

A new documentary titled Film School Africa focuses on the power of filmmaking to heal generations-deep wounds and grapple with the legacy of historical oppression. The film follows Katie Taylor, a Los Angeles-based casting director who travels to South Africa to teach black youth in Kayamandi and Strand filmmaking. Instead of being a dime-a-dozen promotional piece for a foreign-aid organization or non-profit, the documentary quickly switches focus to the lives and difficulties faced by these South African youth, and how moviemaking offers a way out of entrenched cycles of poverty, drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, and domestic abuse, which are all too common in South Africa’s poorer townships.

Film School Africa initially follows Taylor during her first visit to South African, when she taught a six-month filmmaking program to a few kids in Kayamandi who had expressed an interest. She leaves, only to return later. The community schools she started, first in Kayamandi and then in Strand, suburbs of Stellenbosch and Cape Town, respectively, became places for students to express themselves and deal with their traumas on their own terms, a form of art therapy. 

At the start of the film, filmmaking is seen by the poorer township residents as a “white” thing, a luxury field detached from their daily experiences. And yet, the community schools Taylor helped start became recruiting grounds for scholarship students for the Film Department at the Pneumatix Performing Arts Academy, which created the Film School Africa graduate program.

Viewers watch as the first four students of the new program—Tsakane “TK” Shikwambana, Juan van der Walt, Sihle James and Repholositwe “Repo” Mpitsa—grow closer into a family unit as they learn the tricks of the trade needed to enter South Africa’s booming film industry. The students come from vastly different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, like Juan van der Walt, a white Afrikaans student who initially locks his car and looks around warily while filming in the mainly black neighborhood of Kayamandi. By the end of the film, Van der Walt is walking those same streets alone, carrying his camera openly and professing his affection for the people of Kayamandi.

 

 https://meaww.com/film-school-africa-documentary-filmmaking-review-katie-taylor-healing-rifts-apartheid-south-africa

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