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In a vibrant and diverse Johannesburg community, 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda has a knack for taking neglected pieces of furniture and “bringing them back to love”. Eight years after her father’s death, she is determined to revive his prized garage business, which is in deep debt and in danger of being sold. The film crackles with infectious energy and style, capturing a vividly contemporary view of South Africa. Inspired by the possibilities of a modern African aesthetic AYANDA explores the core theme of how we let go of the things and people we love.Zulu and English with English subtitles

Ayanda
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  • Lesego Madisa says:October 21, 2015 11:01 am

    (Ayanda) is a coming-of-age youth film covered in an industrial look and feel deep inside bustling parts of Johannesburg. Ayanda is a young hippie girl who has been keeping his deceased father’s spirit alive by running a motor spares garage. Her casual boyfriend David, who like many other both legal and illegal immigrants who ended up in South Africa for better means, also works with them on a team of three employees together with Zoum. Ayanda is a contemporary artist creating and selling metal/craft furnisher in operation of the garage.

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    It is an unusual and inspirational film from a women who have taken the ropes in their own hands and allowed themselves to dream. Since her father died in a unconventional heavy machinery accident, Ayanda picked up the pieces to head up the garage. Perhaps to keep him alive in some ways.

    There is a special character in this film who is doing a project on the ordinary lives of individuals living around Yeoville. Through him we learn about the character’s motivation and it also simplifies the story for us. He’s like a visible narrator who speaks through the characters. His poetry influenced narration can be backed to the times of Yizo Yizo 3 when homosexual Thabang (Makhaola Ndebele) also through photography, did a focused study on the lives of tired and displeased San Jose residents. The film is intertwined with semi-non-human animation to remind us about Johannesburg’s landscape.

    The women in the film are all trying to get ahead in life, but most have settled for an average outlook. Ayanda’s mother Dorothy works in a Laundromat and is another distressed dream killer. She fails to recognize her daughter’s enduring ability to preserve her father’s legacy with a mechanic job stereo-typically suited for men.

    Because of past projects between Nthati Moshesh and big guy Kenneth Nkosi probably in Mzi Wa Two Six, which used to fly on television, the photographs of them together didn’t need to be convincing because they were real. With all the modern-day technology, blending real images from two different photographs into one is still a struggle for filmmakers. One could conclude they are just too lazy to work at the detail.

    It is when Ayanda’s ‘uncle’, Zama, declares that the garage is at a financial destitute that we get to see what this 21 year-old girl is made of. She’ll do everything to keep it running because she obsessed with it more especially her inherited old car which gives her hope.

    David sacrifices his bursary studies at one of the most prestigious schools in South Africa so he can help Ayanda reach her dreams. He also had belief in Ayanda and the garage. The movie had to be under a direction of a woman (Sara Blecher) because although most of them prefer sympathy-driven character gigs, they can still show how fierce (black) women can be.

    The community in the movie has a positive responsive touch to Ayanda’s cause. She gets all kinds of advice. In some ways Zama is believed to be the one who persuades Dorothy to sell the business because he is in trouble with SARS and wants to avoid jail time. But she’s also still dealing with the terrible loss of a husband.

    Ayanda’s non-criminal approach on pursuing her dreams is noteworthy. She could have fought fire with fire but she chose not to. She is fierce but also selfish. Blinded by her desire to win. To keep the garage. At most cost.

    Zama won’t back down easily and tries to get Ayanda to back out of the business by staging a robbery, although no one suspects him. But in the end Zama resorts to accepting his fate to give Ayanda what she worked hard for.

    Ayanda’s little cousin might be living her life eight years earlier. There are shared feelings of loss. Two young girls joined together by experience by separated by maturity.

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    Loss is a theme in the film. The old lady dies and they offer Ayanda her clothes. Something to do with memory. Something that is personal like the car. The conversation Ayanda had with her little cousin was crucial. She explained that she doesn’t miss her late father and implied that he was ‘with her all the time’. This had a deeper meaning. It’s a reflection. Ayanda sees herself in this girl who’s also dealing with a loss of a parent at a young age.

    Another one is opportunity. Immigration is a fundamental topic in the story. David got awarded a bursary to study a Human Rights degree at Wits which some may argue belonged to South Africans. Ayanda’s uncle mocks Lenaka at the gathering about his level of education. Flaunting that his children went to university whereas Lenaka and his sister have not.

    Dorothy finally has the opportunity to let go of her past by getting rid of the business which has been a painful reminder to her. Even though it’s really Zama who’s pulling the strings. She can afford to buy the house with the sale of the garage and give her children a place to stay.

    Family is another one. Zoum is a committed father and tries to keep up with the demands of his families needs. His wife also chases after him from time to time. But he sacrifices his family time to help Ayanda. He could have been a stay-at-home dad as his wife was expecting again. When the old lady dies, her daughter prefers to keep the funeral in the family with no outsiders. Call it a way to grieve.

    Immigration. The film maker who uses a digital camera and a tripod must be an immigrant who is taking an opportunity by starting a project to tell of diverse lives of the people of Yeoville as far as Ayanda and the garage is concerned. David and his brother ran away from Nigeria to start a life this side. His brother makes a living by dealing unlawfully. But David is one of the good ones. Often reminded of what his brothers and sisters are getting up to in the streets.

    Loyalty. Zama wasn’t loyal to the family but he had a change of heart. Ayanda’s loan shark agent friend had to look out for her by advising her not to take up the ridiculously high interest rate loan. David’s brother failed him when they immigrated to Southern Africa. Zama’s apartheid friend disappeared with his money and put him in trouble.

    Commitment. Ayanda was committed to keeping the garage open at all cost. She wanted the same sentiment from Zoum. Dorothy was committed more than ever to raising her children after her husband died. She had to fully assume and establish the role of motherhood and forget about dreaming. She went through a traumatic experience and kept unresolved resentment following Moses’ death. She did bookkeeping for him and they were always together. She was his guardian angel up until that day they had an argument about Zama and he ended up with a car body on top of him which is a rare mistake to make in the motor industry. But because he was ‘distracted’ it happened. And Zama was the cause of all of this.

    The most important theme of all is sacrifice. Zama sacrifices his freedom and surrenders to the authorities. Ayanda sacrifices her beloved inheritance so she can get her lover back from police custody. Dorothy wants to sacrifice the garage so she could keep her sanity.

    David sacrifices his studies in a foreign country where millions are denied the opportunity of higher education so he could help Ayanda through some illegal activity maybe with his younger brother whom argued with him at the Nigerian bar. The argument scene must have been a vital plot. David had to lose his morals (human wrongs) to achieve this. He participated in aiding the garage by procuring stolen parts.

    The cop sacrifices his commendable service job to get the car of his dreams. Commenting that there are only a hundred and something left in the country. As seen at the end he is no longer in police uniform. Maybe he resigned. Or pawned his job to bail David out. The car is so special even to the cop who commands respect with the well-known condescending police attitude.

    Zama isn’t a real uncle to both Ayanda and Lenaka. Not by blood. The excitement in Dorothy’s eyes says it all when they plan to go out for dinner at the laundromat. She does feel something for him. Some inappropriate affection. At the end when Zama is in prison, Dorothy prepares herself up in vibrant colours, perhaps to go visit him. She was depressed throughout the movie but here. This is enough reason to believe they weren’t related, at all. It might have been a enduring case of skinny love.

    Also the body language in the old framed picture gave Ayanda some ideas about this whole mystery and she had to follow her instinct to find out about her dad’s accident. Who knows if Moses might have been the one who strengthened her always to end up finding out about a possible affair between her mother and Zama leading up to his death?

    In the immigrant’s project, Zama gets emotional when he speaks about Moses. A look of guilt crosses him. Even Dorothy does the same. Coincidence? Not. The filmmaker plays a significant role in the film. His project pieces everything together with the story centered around Moses’ death and the garage.

    The word ‘crush’ used by Dorothy describing her feelings the day of Moses’ accident has a double meaning. It explains the pain she felt when the car fell on Moses and the physical damage it did on his soul.

    (Ayanda) is actually more than it seems. It expands further down the surface it sells or promotes. It has fused topics that require attention.

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