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Resistance documentaries in post-apartheid South Africa: Dear Mandela (Kell and Nizza, 2012) and Miners Shot Down (Desai, 2014)

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During apartheid, a documentary film movement emerged, capturing ordinary people taking on the oppressive government and the exploitative capitalist industry. People were shown at work and in their communities organizing strikes, protesting against repression, and being subjected to violence. This grassroots film movement, which has been described as a cinema of resistance, served as a tool to educate viewers, document violence and inequality, and mobilize support against the apartheid regime. Two decades after the end of apartheid, a similar set of resistance films has begun to emerge – with the difference that these films are holding the democratically elected government accountable. These documentaries give voice to the disenfranchised masses for whom the multiracial democracy has not brought substantial change. The African National Congress-led government has sanctioned actions echoing those that occurred under apartheid, including forced removals and the massacre of protestors.

Two films, Dear Mandela (Kell and Nizza, 2012) and Miners Shot Down (Desai, 2014), capture this and are indicative of a new wave of resistance documentaries.
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Keywords: Abahlali baseMjondolo; Dear Mandela; Marikana massacre; Miners Shot Down; South Africa; documentary film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Emerson College

Publication date: March 1, 2019

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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