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Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category

Deconstructing the “Inner City” at the 2011 Time of the Writer

Achille Mbembe, Marie Darrieussecque, Boris Diop, Lauren Beukes

Special to the CCA blog by Sarah Frost

The Lotus PeopleZoo CityKicking off the evening event for Tuesday at the Time of the Writer 2011, chair Achille Mbembe, from Cameroon, asked South African writers Lauren Beukes and Aziz Hassim to define the “inner city” that appears in their fiction. It soon became apparent that the urban areas they depict in their texts – Beukes’ Hillbrow (as rendered in her novel Zoo City), and Hassim’s Casbah (as described in his novel The Lotus People) – are quite different phenomenae.

Hassim’s novel has a strong nostalgic quality, while Beukes brings in fantastical elements (there are magical creatures in her version of the city). At the same time her work as a journalist for the last 12 years has made her anchor her writing in the real, albeit subverted in interesting ways.

Beukes said she wanted to write about the city because “it interested her more than the hidden cosy enclaves of the suburbs”. She said she found Johannesburg’s ‘breakpoints’ fascinating, in that it is in these troubled, vibrant “ghetto” spaces that people make their lives, and come to terms with what haunts them. She emphasised that she sees Hillbrow as a “vital ambitious community”, not a “desperate slum”.

Hassim said he feels that writing about where he’s from (he grew up in Durban’s Casbah) is not fiction, it is more like documentary work. He spoke of the Casbah as a place where everybody was a “broer”, where race was not an issue, where the community insisted on keeping things safe. For this listener, he came across as romanticising a time past, which made his description less credible. He mentioned that each city has its ‘own ethos,’ saying that Durban’s allowed for ‘anonymity’.

Beukes alluded to a discussion with Ben Williams, editor of BOOK SA, who believes that the time of the “introspective white man’s pastoral” in SA has passed, to be replaced by writing that describes the intense teeming life of cities. She apologised to any JM Coetzee fans in the audience.

Mbembe summed up the debate succinctly, saying it is clear that current fiction about the inner city portrays it as a space of fragility, vulnerability and potentiality.

Aziz Hassim, Thayalan Reddy

EntanglementThe Value of NothingNext up were two authors who, in this listener’s opinion, did not really connect. Sarah Nuttall, cultural theorist, whose most recent book is called Entanglement, challenged Raj Patel, whose book Stuffed and Starved deals with global food policy, to move past the ‘bankrupt’ idea of ‘revelatory academic critique’ towards one of ‘critical intimacy’ with the reader that will enable them to make change possible.

Nuttall said although people have learned, through social media, to deconstruct their worlds, “we are still not affective”. To me, Patel did not seem to be disagreeing with Nuttall at all, arguing for the “radically democratic idea that pleasure needs to be democratised” – for instance peoples’ enjoyment of “slow food”. I did not see him as punting himself as an “intellectual unravelling truth”, as Nuttall labelled him. (One also had a hard time agreeing with Nuttall’s description of herself as a “deep dilettante”.)

Richard Pithouse, from the Rhodes Philosophy Department, did a good job of holding the at times fragmented conversation together, concluding with an interesting banner held up in Tahrir Square that read “I used to watch TV, now TV watches us”.

Book details

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Durban International Film Festival: Our 2010 Showreel (Video)

It’s all happening in Durban from 22 July to 1 August – check out our fabulous Durban Film International Film Festival showreel!


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African and South African Films at Durban International Film Festival 09

The 30thDurban International Film Festival, marks a special point in history of this, South Africa’s longest running festival which continues to celebrate cinema and the art of filmmaking. In the last three decades, African films have remained central to the programming of the DIFF and despite significant downsizing of the overall number of films in the programme, the focus on African content has not shifted. The Festival is proud to present 77 African films, comprising 9 feature films, 28 documentaries and 49 short films. Despite challenges in respect of financing and audience interest for African cinema, a stream of well crafted films continue to get made on the continent, and DIFF is a valued showcase for a selection of such films.

DIFF opens with the South African premiere of internationally acclaimed Durban-made feature My Secret Sky directed by Madoda Ncayiyana, a moving tale of two orphaned rural children and their adventures on the streets of Durban. Other South African films premiering at the festival include the South African Bollywood romantic comedy For Better For Worse by Naresh Veeran, South Africa’s first Xhosa feature length film Intonga by JJ Van Rensburg and Long Street, a second offering from Revel Fox, director of The Flyer. Savo Tufegdzic’s controversial first feature named Crime – Its a way of Life is an unflinching portrait of the psychology of crime in South Africa. Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace is an Australia production of the adaptation of JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning novel, and stars John Malkovich with Durban actress Jessica Haines. Anthony Fabian’s Skin is a South African-UK co-production based on a true story about Sandra Laing who was born to a white family during apartheid, but happened to be black. The world premiere of White Lion is an exquisitely shot story about an albino lion cub rejected by his pride yet revered by the Shangaan tribe, great family viewing. Another film suitable for children is The Seven of Daran – The Battle of Pareo Rock, a Dutch production directed by Lourens Blok, shot in South Africa, about two children’s adventures with a mythical giraffe.

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Closing Evening at the Time of the Writer: Live Cartooning, Mzansi Rising and I Write (and Draw) What I Like

Zapiro, Max du Preez and Andy Mason

The Time of the Writer festival drew to an emotionally charged close last night as Max du Preez and Zapiro expanded on their work as social commentators during the final TOW session at Durban’s Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, entitled “I Write and Draw What I like”.

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Kwesi Becker Stars at the Time of the Writer

Kwesi BeckerKwesi BeckerKwesi Becker

This afternoon’s “Funda – Children’s Literature Special” session at the Time of the Writer saw many different creatives take the stage – where they came under the firm but friendly gaze of one Kwesi Becker, a young person with a charming public presence, who ran the show from start to finish. A new star has been born!

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Writing Home vs Strangelands at the Time of the Writer

Hecto Playaz

The Hecto Playaz pantsula dance group hip-hoppped on stage during the Friday night session at the 12th Time of the Writer, Durban – to get the evening moving, as it were.

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Writing, Culture and Crime Scenes at the Time of the Writer

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The Dlamini King Brothers’ isicatamiya performance opened the proceedings.

Mtutuzeli Matshoba, Kole Omotoso and Moses Isegawa “Writing and Culture” -a rather large subject for discussion – was pinned down at the 2009 Time of the Writer for interrogation by facilitator Kolo Omotoso (Nigeria) whose opening gambit concerned the “culture of de-meaning/demeaning” that is allowed to flourish in parts of the continent.

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Two Panels, Four Writers: Makholwa, Orford, Langa and Van Niekerk at the Time of the Writer

Angela Makholwa, Karabo Kgoleng and Margie Orford Mandla Langa, Sally Ann Murray and Marlene van Niekerk

The first session on Wednesday night at the 12th Time of the Writer was titled “Spellbound, the art of engaging the reader”. It focused on crime writing. Angela Makholwa, first time author of crime novel Red Ink, spoke to Margie Orford, author of Like Clockwork and Blood Rose.

Their discussion was led by Karabo Kgoleng, SAFM radio journalist. Kgoleng asked whether they equated crime writing with fairytale writing. Orford believes that like fairytales, crime novels aim to restore order in a dysfunctional society.

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Launch of Kwani? Magazine at the Time of the Writer

Adams selection of Kwani Billy Kahora

Yesterday evening, on the polished boards of the Wellington Deck Tavern – just adjacent to the Elizabeth Sneddon theatre, UKZN Durban Campus – incisive literary magazine Kwani? celebrated its 5th edition at the Time of The Writer Festival.

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Crimes of History and Africa Dreaming at the Time of the Writer

Opening Music Billy Kahora, Kole Omotoso, Max du Preez

The second evening of the 12th Time of the Writer saw two compelling panel discussions, featuring eminent writers from across the African continent, hold the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre audience rapt. Assessing the role that writers should play in relation to crimes against humanity, and the relative merits and implications of the term “Magical Realism” as a literary genre in African writing, formed the basis of the thoughtful exchange of ideas.

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