The story goes... In March 2012, eight up-and-coming South African filmmakers decided to get together and make a film about a single Johannesburg neighbourhood, all shot in one day.
The neighbourhood was Jeppe, and the resulting film, which offers a look at lives of a diverse group of people (their ambitions, desires, struggles to survive over the course of a Friday), is aptly titled Jeppe On A Friday.
Who are the people who live in Jeppe that the film focuses on?
- Beninese entrepreneurs, Arouna and Zainab, who survived ten days barricaded in their apartment while xenophobic violence raged in the streets below.
- Ravi, a second-generation Indian shop owner who considers himself a Jeppe boy. A shrewd businessman, Ravi grew up in the neighbourhood, till the apartheid government forcibly removed his family.
- Vusi, a garbage reclaimer, walks 15 km with his trolly from the affluent suburbs into the city every day, transforming waste into wealth, and remaining proudly independent.
- Alfred, a 'black diamond' wedding planner hustling his wares in the artsy renovated city spaces.
- Robert, who leads a traditional Zulu isicathamiya singing group lives in a 10,000 strong men's hostel and works hard on his music career.
- Mr. Gift, a blind Zimbabwean who, along with a few hundred other blind migrants, fled to Johannesburg and now illegally occupy an inner city building.
- JJ, a young white venture capitalist who returned to South Africa from Europe, hoping to develop what he believes might be the next New York style urban environment in the inner city.
- Sixteen year old Lillan, a political refugee from Zimbabwe and the brightest matriculating student in her inner city school.
The goal with the project is to celebrate local communities and filmmakers; to highlight that, underneath it all are relatable everyday struggles, peaks and valleys, and learning how to live with, or apart from one another.
I dig the idea, like the diversity in representations, and would definitely like to check out this seemingly verite-style collaborative documentary feature.
By the way, the 8 filmmakers of this Canadian/South African production, are: Shannon Walsh, Arya Lalloo, Mujahid Safodien, Ryley Groenewald, Natalie Haarhof, Kitso Lynn Lelliot, Xoliswa Sithole, Lucilla Blankenberg.
Jeppe On A Friday has been touring the international film festival, and will have its USA premiere at the Big Sky Documentary Festival in Missoula, Montana, which runs from February 15 - 24.
I hope it makes its way to NYC.
Here's a preview: