VSAFF: Apartheid reverberates in edgy Vancouver South African Film Festival


Multicultural Vancouver can certainly glean a lesson or two—or, rather, a multitude—from the layered, ethnically diverse, and dynamic social fabric of South Africa, which boasts a whopping 11 official languages.

With its documentary-heavy program, this year’s fourth annual Vancouver South African Film Festival (Saturday and Sunday [April 5 and 6], at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, SFU Woodward’s) provides both education and entertainment—and doesn’t shy away from edginess, either.

The impact of apartheid is an enduring theme.

The documentary Miracle Rising chronicles the country’s transition after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, while Breathe Again documents how one of the fastest swimmers in the world, Derek Orderson, wasn’t allowed to compete internationally due to apartheid laws.

The arts provide another unifying strand, with films such as Felix, about a teenage boy who strives to become a saxophonist against his mother’s wishes; The Creators, a documentary that explores how six artists are expressing issues in postapartheid contemporary life; and the short film “Dada the Dancing Swan”, about a dancer fusing ballet and other dance forms.

die wonderwerker

Scene from Die Wonderwerker

Meanwhile, two films provide profiles of lawyers: Die Wonderwerker (The Miracle Worker), about journalist, poet, and naturalist Eugène Marais, and opening-night film Soft Vengeance: Albie Sachs and the New South Africa, about writer and human-rights activist Albie Sachs.

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