Prod: EveryWhere Films
Director: Pablo Pinedo Bóveda
Type: Feature Length Documentary – 87′ – B&W
Format: DVCPRO HD 720 25p
Aspect Ratio: 2.38:1
Noma is a young black woman that represents a huge portion of the post-apartheid South African youth: surviving with a precarious job, living in a township in Cape Town, renting a shack that she shares with four other people: her two sons, her cousin and her younger brother. She is a strong woman who carries stoically the charge of being a single mother with two children; one of whom is a semi-paraplegic and blind disabled baby. What she wants, is to improve her life and her family’s life. Her obstacles are: the harsh life she’s already living, dealing with poverty and a disabled child. Added to this, the struggle of building a new house in a recent slum, facing violent evictions and consequently the possibility of loss of money invested in building materials. Together with her in the same situation there’s a group of people, who becomes a multitude after a while. This first little group approaches the already existent and combatant Marikana settlement dwellers in Philippi East, a suburb of Cape Town, for advice and guidance because the land they intend to occupy is adjacent to them. The Marikana settlement dwellers already faced evictions the precedent year and their case in court is still pending. After the meeting the people decide to occupy soon. They are the first group that starts to build the new settlement. Out of nowhere, built among rubbish and putrefactive skulls left in a flesh waste dumping area, a few dozen shacks emerge. First eviction, some houses are demolished. During that time Noma organises her materials, by the time she joins the new slum there are already hundreds of structures. Second eviction. Noma’s shack gets destroyed together with many others. A succession of meetings and organisational gatherings for more building happens, but the situation becomes orderly disorganised with a constant river of bakkies bringing materials to load the massive flood of shacks all over the previously vacant land. Noma in order to get materials again, makes the decision to purchase the structure she is currently living in, in Khayelitsha. Demolishing it and bringing those materials to the new settlement, building her new house for the second time. She does so partially but the next day a violent eviction occurs, this time Law Enforcement officers fire live ammunition. In the media the coverage of the events is generally a negation of the facts, along with some comments from online readers denigrating the slum settlers. Fortunately Noma conserves the shack, continuing her life: house-keeping, nurturing and working at the chicken restaurant kitchen.
The style of the documentary is a mix between observational and cinema veritè. The documentary film will be shot entirely handheld, with a 50mm focal length for all the scenes to maintain the aesthetic. Creating long sequences following the character and the events, without any spoken words of interviews to camera. The selection of the black and white appearance is based on several reasons: the homogeneity that the grey spectrum provides to the images, the inevitable remembrance and comparison with images from the repressor Apartheid regime, the similarities that the black and white provides to the piece as a neo-realistic genre. Like one of those captivating Italian films from the 1950’s. And finally, the inherent beauty of the absence of color.
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