Cape Town - A labour of love.
That’s how Anton Fisher, first-time screenwriter and co-producer of Address Unknown, a short film focusing on District Six’s forced removals, describes his long journey to make the film.
The film recently won the Audience Choice Award at the 2020 Durban International Film Festival.
“This award is a confirmation that South African movie audiences want to see themselves depicted in stories they can relate to,” said Fisher.
In 1950, the apartheid government enacted the Group Areas Act which designated certain areas and neighbourhoods for specific racial groups. On February 11, 1966, the sword finally fell on District Six.
Soon the bulldozers moved in and flattened a community which was subsequently scattered across the Cape Flats throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
A former journalist at the Cape Times, who started his career in 1983, Fisher said he found journalism quite restrictive and scriptwriting, for him, was a creative outlet.
“I started working on this project three years ago, if not more.”
And like many before, the producers of the film had to scrimp and scrounge for funds.
“It does take time, in South Africa it takes longer. I struggled for funding, I did get some funding from the National Film and Video Foundation … they gave a small amount, I had to raise funds on social media through crowdfunding. It was a struggle,” said Fisher.
Fortunately, they overcame those funding obstacles and started shooting the film towards the end of last year.
Fisher said: “We filmed in the remaining streets of District Six which were not demolished. For me it was quite a thrill, it’s my first film.”
The interior scenes were shot at a house in District Six and the other scenes in Bonteheuwel.
The first public screening of the film was in August at the Black Star Film Festival.
Although he never lived there, Fisher said his mother was born in District Six and moved out of the area before she got married.
“We used to visit relatives in Mackenzie Street in District Six. The film is a tribute to the people of District Six, a memento to their struggle and resilience, their will power and their humanity. I want to honour their humanity that apartheid could not destroy,” says Fisher.
Now that Address Unknown has received such a favourable reception, Fisher said plans were afoot to make a full-length feature.
The film’s director, Nadine Cloete, says the crew are excited about the plaudits for their film.
“It makes that statement about what the audience wants to see. I hope people watch the film. We as a crew and cast are excited because this year all screenings were online.
“In terms of black cinema, that is great because more people get to see it. In terms of competition, it is higher because all films are available,” said Cloete.
She previously directed the documentary on the life of Ashley Kriel, Action Kommandant, and Address Unknown was her first venture into fiction.