Issues of identity are in the spotlight in July, with AfriDocs screening a compelling range of films that look at the journeys that define us. These films look at how race, language, immigration, adoption, and land all influence identity for Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.
Shashamane is the story of an actual journey – that of a community of people of African heritage who have returned to Ethiopia. Their exodus is chronicled through their own voices in this powerful film.
Little White Lie is about race and identity and how our past and heritage are always part of us. The story of Lacey Schwartz’s journey towards finding her own heritage makes for compelling viewing.
Similarly, Mercy Mercy takes a harsh look at the world of international adoption, following the plight of Ethiopian orphans Masho and her little brother Roba. The film looks at the realities of these kinds of international adoptions.
Land and identity are linked. This Land, fresh from the Durban International Film Festival, looks at this critical issue through the events taking place in Makhasaneni, where a small community moved here by the apartheid government, now have their homes under threat again, this time by a mining company in cahoots with the Entembeni Zulu Royal Family.
Shashamane | Giulia Amati | Ethiopia | 2016 | 80 min
The journey to Shashamane in Ethiopia where a community of people of African heritage from the Caribbean, the US and Britain have returned to live on their forefathers’ land, as sung by Bob Marley. It’s an Exodus that for some has become a haven, but for others a cage with no escape. Shashamane chronicles a chapter in the lengthy history of the African diaspora through the voices of men and women who have left the West 400 years after the dawn of the African slave trade, to seek their promised land.
Film Africa Festival, UK 2016
Little White Lie | Lacey Schwartz & James Adolphus | USA | 2014 | 65 min
A personal doc about race, identity and the legacy of family secrets and denial. Lacey Schwartz grew up convinced she was white. She has copper skin, black curls, and full lips – features which distinguish her instantly from her pale Jewish parents. Throughout her childhood her differences set her apart. But it wasn’t until she was 18 that she learned the truth: her real father was black. Eight years in the making and put together by Lacey herself, Little White Lie tells the story of an uncomfortable truth.
Best Documentary and Audience Award, Teaneck International Film Festival, 2014
Mercy Mercy | Katrine Riis Kjær | Ethiopia, Denmark | 2012 | 94 min
At first sight, adoption seems like a win-win situation: a poor orphan gets some loving parents and a good life. But the world of adoption is a question of supply and demand, with Ethiopia as a chief supplier of thousands of needy children. The fact that the well-being of the child is not always top priority becomes painfully clear in this tragic story about Masho and her little brother Roba.
Prix La Trois, Millenium Festival 2014
This Land | Miki Redelinghuys | South Africa | 2017 | 48 min
In Makhasaneni, a hamlet in rural KwaZulu-Natal, scores of villagers are under threat of forced removal for the second time in as many generations. Forcibly moved here by the apartheid government, now their homes are under threat by a mining company in cahoots with the Entembeni Zulu Royal Family, who seek to exploit the land over the heads of the people who live and work on it. An eloquent portrait of the activists and residents of Makhasaneni, This Land is also a brave exposé of the inadequacy of customary law in a predatory capitalist state. It raises the question, “Is monarchy compatible with democratic land reform?”
Encounters International Documentary Film Festival 2017