Love the One You Love written and directed by Jenna Bass at the Labia and Bioscope from the 18th September.
Necktie Youth written and directed by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer at Ster Kinekor and Independent Cinemas from the 25th of September .
A new wave of South African cinema has arrived and is winning awards at film festivals across the world. Hot young film directors are turning inwards and finding a new narrative on meaning and identity for the first free generation of post-Apartheid youth.
The brittleness of love, happiness and identity among South Africa’s first free youth is depicted in talented Cape Town director Jenna Bass’s break-out feature film debut Love The One You Love.
Acclaimed for its “progressive and contemporary” depiction of love by the Hollywood Reporter, Love The One You Love won awards at the Durban International Film Festival in 2014 for Best Actress, Best South African Feature Film and Best Direction in a South African Feature Film. It has since been nominated for the Ingmar Bergman Debut Award at the Goteborg International Film Festival and the Flash Forward Award at the Busan International Film Festival
The disconnect of youth struggling to make sense of their emotions and the painful social reality in which they find themselves is echoed in Necktie Youth a story of sex, drugs and adolescent disconnect among the multi-racial elite of Joburg’s affluent Sandton. The cultural disorientation of a young and privileged clique is powerfully told by 23-year-old film director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer with monochromatic cinematography and a dream-soaked narrative groove that nods to the black-and-white style of the post-war European avant garde: Godard, Truffaut and Fellini. Necktie Youth swept awards and international acclaim in Berlin, New York and Sydney recently for its harrowing portrayal of middle class identity hidden behind the high walls of opulent mansions.
In a riot of colour accompanied by a pulsing and haunting soundtrack from Ross Dorkin of SAMA-winning band, Beatenberg, Love the One You Love is set in Cape Town, and follows three characters who “start to suspect that there’s a conspiracy afoot to to keep them in -and out –of love.” The film shot on a shoestring budget , is entirely improvised with stunning performances by Chi Mhendi (Terri – a Phone sex operator), Andile Nebulane (Sandile -a dog Handler} and Louw Venter (Eugene -a lonely IT technician) .
In Necktie Youth a new jaded, cosmopolitan generation emerges with identities that differ radically from those of their parents. They could be in any teenage wasteland of decadence and dystopia in the post-modern world. But they aren’t and the painful complexities of their post-apartheid social reality just seem too much for them to bear. “It’s not like a black white thing anymore. We don’t have to kaffirise the situation any more. It’s too much fucking pressure,” says one young hipster to his friend.
The narrative of politics is discarded and replaced with a new disassociation. “People don’t want to help each other. It’s that simple. We’ve got our own shit.’’
In a haze of drugs and economic privilege, two middle class guys, September (played by Sibs Shongwe-La Mer) and Jabz (Bonko Khoza) embark on a self-destructive bender driving across Joburg in a borrowed Jaguar. The film, which has been likened to Larry Clark’s Kids and the early work of African American filmmaker Spike Lee, has been described by one critic “as the first really distinctive cinematic voice to emerge from a generation of young South Africans to whom the country’s post-democratic history is largely a second-hand abstraction”.
At the Durban International Film Festival this year the film won an award for best South African feature film and Shongwe-La Mer also took home the prize for best direction.
Where is the love and happiness, asks film director Sibs Shongwe-La Mer as September in Necktie Youth. “In 1995 the country was so new and beautiful and full of love. People believed in what they were supposed to be. We watched everything get less hopeful. Where now? “
Perhaps South African youth and its promising young film directors are starting to show us.
With both films pushing boundaries, Steven Markovitz and Elias Ribeiro the respective producers are excited to continue along the paths of innovation by making both films available on a limited VOD release.