Anyone who has ever lived in shack a will tell you; when winter strikes, the only questions on your mind are why and how. You find yourself asking, “Why was I born in this situation?” and “How can I get myself and my family out of it?” The most prevalent answer you will hear in the township, Education.
From a young age, I was told that studying hard and doing well at school would ensure me a bright future filled with wealth and respect, which was and is very true. However, the people who raised me – and most parents and elders in the area that I grew up in – seemed to have a narrow view of career choices, which they projected on to their kids. This means that, from a young age, we only aspired to be in one of these five careers:
- Medicine (Nurse or Doctor)
- Law Enforcement
I know that this may seem as though I am perpetuating stereotypes, but if you’d ask any black person from any township what they’re parents wanted them to be; I doubt Anthropologist or Archaeologist would be on the top of the list. With that said, you can imagine the astounded look that my mother, uncle, teachers and principal gave me when I told them that I am planning to study Film & Television Studies at UCT. To them it was hard to believe that the student who was in the Top 3 in Maths, Physics and Life Science would pursue a career in the arts.
In his book, An Actor Prepares, legendary theatre practitioner Konstantin Stanislavski states that; “The essence of art is not in its external forms but in its spiritual content”. The first time I read this, I was in high school. I assumed he meant ‘art’ as in paintings and sculptures, but I then realized that he was referring to art as being the wide range of human activities in creating visual, auditory, or performing artworks which expresses a person’s imagination or skills. Moreover, contains beauty and/or emotional power.
Just with that description alone, I saw films in a completely new light.
Also in High School is where I fell in love with films, not just as a way of passing the time when you do not have anything else to do, but also as an art form that can shape a person’s thought processes. I fell in love with the creation of an entire world with which I can control the people’s choices, actions and overall lives.
The older I grew up more the more I started to realize how much films have shaped my thinking and ideology. For instance:
My favourite movie, The Matrix. The Matrix is a movie about a man who finds out that the entire world is a computer-based reality, which is controlled by Artificial Intelligent robots in order to keep human beings in control while they use us (humans) as fuel. As much as this seems like science fiction nonsense, it had me contemplating the way(s) in which this could be applicable to real life.
In the book, Technology and Psychological well-being, the author(s) argue that once we use technological advances such as communication devices, we cannot imagine our lives without them. This implies a sense of dependency. Many people may say that since us – as humans – created technology, we have the power and authority over them and if we wanted to destroy them, we could. However, in one of the Matrix sequels, the film questions how we as humans would survive without technology.
This is just one of the existential questions prevalent in the film, which made me fall in love with it. It is an effective example of how movies can be engrossing and spark philosophical and intellectual conversations.
I also want to become a filmmaker that creates content, which does not only entertain and thrill, but makes some form of socio-political commentary. Just like Stanislavski, I want to focus on the spiritual content of the art of film making. Here is a short film that my friends and I have made.
Although it might not be the best short film that you have watched, I hope you can see the commentary that the film makes. I hope you can see our attempt to touch on society’s reaction to rape and rape culture and how – in some cases – ignorance causes the victim to be blamed for rape.
Although films can be trivial at times, it is quite important to focus on their artistic nature and their ability to create effective change. And whether you’re from the township, suburbs or the city; I do believe that there is that one film or film character that you relate to in an almost intimate level that it changes your life.