Sydney South African Film Festival goes online in 2020

Buddha in Africa

Sydney South African Film Festival goes online in 2020

Returning for its second year, the Sydney South African Film Festival is pushing through coronavirus restrictions by bringing the entire festival online. Eleven films – including features, shorts and documentaries – as well as director interviews and Q&A sessions are all part of the 2020 program.

Festival director Claire Jankelson is excited for SSAFF to showcase the very best of South African cinema.

“We have amazing directors, we have excellent acting. We have some very strong films…giving a most remarkable picture of post-apartheid South Africa in all of its many senses,” she said.

Kicking off the festival is inspiring documentary Beyond Moving. The story follows a young South African boy who is noticed for being an incredible dancer. His talent takes him all the way to Canada’s National Ballet School where he eventually becomes a worldwide phenomenon. For Jankelson, this film stands out for its unique portrayal of culture clash.

Beyond Moving

“You feel and you see the cultural struggle of this little child of colour from a small town of a very close community going and becoming a dancer in Canada…the awkwardness of cultures coexisting”.

Another highlight from this year’s program is Fiela se Kind, which translates to ‘Fiela’s child’ in the Afrikaans language. Taking place in pre-apartheid South Africa, the film tells the story of a white child who is adopted by a mixed-race family, but is later forcibly removed by authorities to live with a family of woodchoppers. Audiences are encouraged to consider questions of identity, belonging and what it means to be a person of colour.

Music buffs will certainly enjoy Johnny Clegg, The White Zulu, which explores the life and legacy of one of South Africa’s most iconic musicians. Those passionate about theatre are sure to love The Space: Theatre of Survival, an extraordinary documentary about South Africa’s first racially-inclusive theatre. Despite facing constant police raids and death threats, the theatre continued to exist against all odds.

It is these themes of resilience, courage and survival which characterise this year’s selection of films.

Fiela se Kind

Following in the footsteps of film festivals in Vancouver and Toronto, the Sydney South African Film Festival was created with the strong motivation to collect funds for Education Without Borders. This organisation provides mentoring, leadership training and support to disadvantaged children in the Western Cape. All ticket proceeds will go towards EWB programs.

In terms of online organisation, Jankelson was keen to recreate as much of a festival atmosphere as possible. Most of the films have two set screening times (7pm and 3pm), and viewers will have a three-hour window to watch each film. There will also be plenty of extra content to enjoy, such as director introductions and prerecorded Q&As with the filmmakers.

Event details:
WHEN: 16-25th May
COST: $8 per film or $60 for a festival pass

If you would like to know more about the festival, click HERE.


Isabel Zakharova

Isabel Zakharova is a final-year student at UTS, studying Communications and International Studies. She loves reading, writing and exploring other cultures - through travel, film and cuisine. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: editor@culturalpulse.com.au