The much-anticipated hybrid feature documentary, ALISON, comes to the big screen in South Africa on 12 August 2016, for Women’s Month.
In December 1994, two men raped, stabbed and disemboweled Alison Botha after they abducted her from outside her home in Port Elizabeth. Against all odds, Alison defied death – and she also denied her attackers the satisfaction of destroying her life. Her book, I have life, published by Penguin SA in 1998 has remained on the Penguin SA bestsellers list, translated into seven different languages. Alison was the first-ever South African to publicly speak out about being raped, and has become a sought-after motivational speaker, sharing her tale of courage and resilience with audiences around the world.
ALISON is a triumphant, deeply personal film with contemporary, real-life fairytale undertones. This is her tale about being her own hero, on her terms – fairy gardens and all. It’s a story about how trauma is ongoing, forever lurking in the shadows, ready to show itself at any given moment and devour you all over again, and one woman’s fight to keep it at bay. It’s a tale of monsters, miracles and hope and chronicles how Alison’s life has unfolded in the 20 years since the attack. An innovative make-a-difference outreach campaign, The Safe Room, is planned to coincide with the life of the film.
“It’s a big moment when you share something that you really believe in with others – a little nervous at what their reaction will be. And that moment becomes significant and pivotal when they choose to believe in it too,” says Alison Botha.
In August 2012, mine workers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days into the strike, the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. Using the POV of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down, follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company, Lonmin, the ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers. What emerges is collusion at the top, spiraling violence and the country’s first post-colonial massacre. South Africa will never be the same again.
The Shore Breakhas won the Backsberg Audience Choice Award at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival for Best South African Film, while Virungawas voted Best International Film.
Best South African Film: The Shore Break
Directed by Ryley Grunenwald, The Shore Break is the disturbing story of two Pondo cousins on opposing sides of the Xolobeni Wild Coast mining conflict.
Australian mining company MRC Ltd and their BEE partners Xolco want to mine for titanium, while the South African government is pushing forwards with a plan to create a N2 Toll Road through the Wild Coast.
But as The Mail and Guardian asked in their review, “Why should Australian mining interests be allowed to despoil pristine Wild Coast dunes and the communities attached to the land?”
Many in the local community want to rather preserve their traditional Pondo lifestyle, with eco-tourism seen as an alternative route to economic growth. Many are also worried about disturbing the graves of their relatives.
But opposition comes at a price: some who speak up have allegedly been assassinated, while the late Pondo king was dethroned by government and replaced by a pro-mining relative.
The Shore Break sold out shows, had extra screenings added in Cape Town and Johannesburg, and sparked numerous conversations.
“It is incredibly rewarding that The Shore Break has been so well received by South African audiences,” says Ryley. “Though the film is busy being shown around the world, it is the local audience who truly understands all the layers, nuances and the gravity of the story – because the Wild Coast is part of our lives and part of our natural heritage as South Africans. The screenings at Encounters have been fantastic and we’re really grateful to the festival and the audiences for making years of hard work well worth it.”
The Backsberg Audience Choice Award is the second festival prize for The Shore Break, which was also named Best Documentary at the 2015 International Environmental Film Festival (FIFE) in Paris.
The Mail and Guardian hailed it as “eloquent, persuasive, forcible: advocacy documentary-making at its ethical best,” while City Press called it both “alarming” and “inspiring.”
Audiences voted Nomakhomazi Dyosopu’s Ndi Vumeni: Faniswa the second most popular South African film, followed by Lebogang Rasethaba’s Prisoner 467/64. Ndi Vumeni: Faniswa screened with Jas Boude, directed by Georgina Warner and Imraan Christian.
Virunga’s fellow Oscar nominee, Wim Wenders’ The Salt of the Earth, was voted the second favorite international documentary, followed by Joshua Oppenheimer’s multi-award-winning The Look of Silence.
The 17th Encounters South African International Documentary Festival held 85 screenings in June, made possible through the support of the National Film and Video Foundation South Africa, Al Jazeera, Bertha Foundation, WESGRO, HCI Foundation, What’s On and Big Fish School of Digital Filmmaking.
Festival programmer Jenna Bass says, “Congratulations to both The Shore Break and Virunga on their well-deserved wins. Having an African-set documentary win the Backsberg Audience Choice Award for Best International Film can only be indicative of South Africans’ growing interest in the rest of our continent. We are equally proud that the three most popular South Africa films were made by young filmmakers with fresh voices, engaging with activism of both the present and the past, in what we hope is a new era of transformative South African filmmaking.”
Backsberg Estate Cellars CEO Simon Back adds, “It is a great honour for us to sponsor the Audience Choice Awards. The aim of the awards is to raise awareness around the festival and what has resonated with audiences. With sustainability being core to the way we run our winery, I am also thrilled that both winners raise awareness around critical environmental matters.”
Future Sound of Mzansi is being streamed over three episodes on Thump, VICE’s electronic music and culture channel. Thump is screening Future Sound of Mzansi to its two million unique visitors, across nine global channels and with translations into six languages.
The cult documentary explores the past, present and future of the South African electronic music scene and its multiple genres, presented through the eyes of internationally acclaimed musician Spoek Mathambo and filmmaker Lebogang Rasethaba. It was produced by Black Major, with support from Red Bull and WESC.
“Electronic music is a staple of South African popular culture,” says Nthato Mokgata, who is better known by his musical alias, Spoek Mathambo. “The electronic music scene reflects the country’s shifting cultural landscape, 20 years into democracy, so Future Sound of Mzansi isn’t just a film about music – it’s a film about a country in transition.”
Since premiering at Durban International Film Festival last July, Future Sound of Mzansi has screened around the world, introducing global audiences to genres like Durban Qgom, Shangaan electro, Bacardi house, and township tech.
“It was a story begging to be told,” says Lebogang. “I was excited about what was happening in South Africa. The energy, the vibe, the creativity was at an all-time high. For me, it was about documenting South Africa in this highly cinematic environment and changing people’s perspectives on what South Africa looks like, sounds like, feels like.”
The documentary has been featured across the internet, from i-D and Nowness to The Guardian and High Snobiety.
In its review of Future Sound of Mzansi, The Daily Dot wrote, “Arguably, the most interesting music in the world today is coming out of Africa, and some of the most interesting contemporary African music is coming out of South Africa.”
The Daily Dotcould have been speaking about any of the artists featured in Future Sound of Mzansi, like Aero Manyelo, Big FKN Gun, Black Coffee, Christian Tiger School, Culoe de Song, Felix Laband, John Wizards, Jumping Back Slash, Krushed & Sorted, Machepies, Markus Wormstorm, Mix & Blend, DJ Mujava, Naked Boys, Nozinja, Okmalumkoolkat, Panyaza, Rude Boyz, Sibot, DJ Spoko, Zaki Ibrahim and many more.
But the documentary isn’t just a PR exercise for South African electronic music: as The Daily Dot points out, the documentary has some “quietly heartbreaking scenes” that “leave you more invested in the musicians as people, playing against the trope of the DJ as hero.”
“When it comes to Africa, I think a lot of portrayals are quite dark and pessimistic, so I wanted to focus on a really vibrant and creative energy,” says Nthato. “I wanted to portray South African youth energy: the raw creativity, the highly technical intelligence, and the beautiful vibrancy, as well as the struggle, madness, drama and frustrations.”
Watch Now Future Sound of Mzansi – Part one, which focuses on Durban…
Watch Now Future Sound of Mzansi – Part two, which focuses on Cape Town...
Thumpwill release part three, which focuses on Pretoria and Atteridgeville, on 3 June 2015.
The full documentary will be available for a limited time from 10 June 2015.
“This whole project oozes quality. You wouldn’t want a documentary about South African electronic music to be directed by anyone else.”
“A beautifully documented study of the increasingly diverse electronic scene in South Africa.”
“Powerful… Future Sound shows a country in transition.”
“A beautifully shot and thoroughly curious exploration of the scene and all its people.”
“Since the documentary went out, things have changed… Many people never knew each other before, and it brought everyone together.”
DJ Spoko, quoted in Thump
“A powerful exploration and interrogation of South Africa’s fertile creative scene.”
“Beyond being a discussion of the music, Future Sounds of Mzansi interrogates the socioeconomic and geographic realities of South Africa’s legacy of division. It also shows how a generation of creators and innovators is bridging the divides and making the world listen through whatever way is available to them.”
The Mail and Guardian
“A fascinating insight into South Africa’s cultural landscape via electronic music.”
In December 1994 Alison Botha was abducted by two men who raped, disemboweled and slashed her throat 16 times, ensuring she would never breathe again. However, Alison miraculously survived this horrific ordeal and through will power, refused to give her attackers the pleasure of destroying her life.
Alison’s story originally by Author Marianne Thamm titled “I have life- Alisons Journey”, was one of the first books of its kind to be published in South Africa, classified a best seller since publication. 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the horrendous torment Alison endured, which shocked South Africa and changed her life completely. Now 20 years later, her story will be developed into a feature documentary titled “Alison”, directed and produced by Uga Carlini (Towerkop Creations). The producers include Georgia Court (associate producer), Jan Du Plessis (executive producer), Karen Meiring (executive producer), Steve Harris (executive producer), Amy Nelson (development producer) and Jana Erasmus (outreach producer). Currently in production, the documentary will give a visual representation to the traumatic events of December 1994, with the role of young Alison portrayed by Actress Christia Visser. Uga Carlini founder and President of TowerKop Creations, producing company of the film, specialize in female driven heroine stories that inspire and entertain audiences.
Director and Screenwriter Uga Carlini has released a promotional trailer to provide audiences with a sneak peek below
“Alison” is currently in preproduction and will start shooting in April 2015. Production should be completed in May, for a scheduled release in 2016!
Stay up to date on all current “Alison” developments with the links provided below