Sundance makes history by selecting First Narrative Film directed by a black South African

Sundance makes history by selecting First Narrative Film directed by a black South African

They say dynamite comes in small packages, Sadla, a narrative short film produced by Kude Media is proof of that, Clocking in at 5 minutes and forty-five seconds exactly, this powerful film has made history by being the very first narrative film by a black South African filmmaker to be selected for the Sundance Film Festival.

Sadla is a simple study in shifting power paradigms. Sadla draws a comparison between the most common and visible manifestations of racism and sexism in public spaces. It is an uncomfortable film that rests almost entirely on the shoulders of little known actor, Kuthula Magubane as he moves between being a victim of racism to victimising others with sexism. Veteran actors Abena Ayivor and Justin Strydom are also part of the cast.

According to the Sundance Institute, submissions reached a record high of 15,100 this year. Among those, only 29% were created by female filmmakers. The festival will take place in Park City, Utah between the 23rd of January and the 3rd of February, 2020. Sundance is widely regarded as the largest American independent film festival. It's the festival that launched the careers of the likes of Ava DuVernay and Black Panther director, Ryan Coogler. This will be the USA premiere of Sadla. The film's world premiere was at the Toronto International Film Festival in Canada earlier this year.

Sadla was written, directed and produced by accomplished filmmaker, Zamo Mkhwanazi. Mkhwanazi works between South Africa and Switzerland. In 2011 she wrote, directed and produced her first short film, Philia. Her second short, The Call, premiered at Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival and screened at the 40th Toronto International Film Festival. Her short film, Gallo Rojo premiered at the 69th Cannes Film Festival Directors' Fortnight. Mkhwanazi has written more some 200 hours of aired television on over 25 television shows. She is currently developing her first feature film, Laundry.

When questioned about her choice of police brutality as the film's main themes, Mkhwanazi had this to say, "The violence of the police towards black bodies has become ever more highlighted with the global impact of the Black Lives Matter movement and in South Africa, with the student protest movements sweeping the country. It occurred to me that this progression, from staring and inciting fear for fun, to outright murder is not a very different path than what most women experience on a day-to-day basis in urban streets. From having men making women uncomfortable with stares and following, to the extreme horror of rape and brutal murders of women that make our country number two for rape and five for femicide, in the world. Thus the purpose of this film is an attempt to start talking across these divides amongst the victimised".

It is clear that South African women like Mkhwanazi want their voices to be heard. The selection of Sadla at a platform like Sundance means the world is ready to listen however attending Sundance is a costly exercise. Furthermore, the announcement of the final line-up comes at a time when most of the film funding bodies have exhausted their 2019 budgets. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched to cover Mkhwanazi's flights, accommodation and living expenses. To make a financial contribution, all you have to do is visit Zamo's Backabuddy crowdfunding campaign page: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/zamo-mkhwanazi

For more updates, follow the Sadla page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Sadlashortfilm/

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