At an exciting finale event held at iKhaya Lodge in Gardens, Cape Town on Sunday 22 October, film maker Zwelethu Radebe from Soweto, Johannesburg won shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival’s Made in South Africa Jury Award for his 30 minute short film submission called The Hangman (2016). Two other awards were announced as well: the Best Cinematography Award that went to Overberg by Jacques Naude, and the Audience Award that went to It’s Complicated by Grant de Sousa.
The Hangman is about a black prison warder faced with an impossible choice. The apartheid story, set in 1989, is one of an armed struggle against the systematic oppression of people of colour in South Africa. Director Zwelethu Radebe situates individual stories within the greater narrative of this oppressive regime in The Hangman. The film uncovers personal struggles that individuals and different families experienced during apartheid. It explores identity, sacrifice and truth.
As a South African artist, Radebe has made it his mission to tell stories that unpack the intricacies of the country’s history. “As we understand where we come from we understand ourselves better and are empowered to engage with our present environment with wisdom, understanding and sensitivity,” he explains. The film tells the story of a black prison warder, guarding black prisoners. It explores the tensions between the warder and inmates who see him as a traitor while it also explores the tensions between the warder and his white colleagues. The narrative becomes even more complex when an estranged family member is incarcerated in the prison.
“Narratives such as The Hangman do the job of highlighting who we are as humanity, beyond racial stereotypes and issues,” says Radebe, adding that the 30 minute film mirrors the challenges still faced by South African families today. “I hope to challenge audiences by drawing attention to the hidden consequences of some of the choices we make. Even though we might think what we’re doing is right, the outcome may be destructive.”
This year 13 South African film-makers competed for the Jury Prize in the shnit Made in South Africa Competition. Aside from The Hangman, Overberg by Jacques Naude (7 mins) and It’s Complicated by Grant de Sousa (17 mins), other films included HUM by Willem Grobler (24 mins), Masquerading: To Hell and Back by Sofia de Fay (14 mins), 427 Types of Weiners by Talya Galasko (3 mins), Lokoza by Zee Ntuli and Isabelle Meyer (18 mins), Until the Silence Comes by Puleng Lange-Stewart and Jannous Aukema (29 mins), Sea Bones by Rob Smith (12 mins), Open Gate by Matthew Robinson (27 mins), Fihla by Meja Shoba (14 mins), Stillborn by Jahmil Qubeka (24 mins), and The Frame and the Flower by Musaed Abrahams and Leanne Brady (13 mins).
Founded in Bern, Switzerland in 2003, shnit has become one of the world’s biggest shortfilm festivals, taking place simultaneously in eight cities, on five continents, over one weekend, from 18 to 22 October 2017. shnit Worldwide Shorfilmfestival presents an innovative experience like no other in the genre. With its reputation for the finest short film fare, shnit has made its mark and established itself as a force to be reckoned with on the global short film scene. Aside from Cape Town, other shnit Playgrounds this year include Bern, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Hong Kong, Moscow, San Jose and Bangkok, all holding their shnit fests over the same weekend. This year marks the 8th shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival in Cape Town.
Aside from Made in South Africa, 102 films competed in the global shnit International Competition for the prestigious Flaming Faun Award that will be handed over in New York City on 29 October. Kaapse Bobotie is the staple South African out-of-competition showcase, where 19 local films were screened. Other genres included shnit Documents, shnit Animates and short films of the adult variety in Peeping shnit. Basically, at shnit, something for everyone. In total, 156 films were on offer this year, ranging from 1 to 40 minutes in duration.
Trailer of ‘The Hangman’: https://vimeo.com/207442971