The Master

The contribution of the Marquis de Sade to the South African Struggle for liberty is interrogated in film at this year’s National Arts Festival. Seriously.

Turns out the French philosopher and libertine actually did have a place in the history of the theatre as an extension of the Struggle. Peter Weiss’ play The Marat/Sade opened at the Market Theatre in 1976 and was performed on a township tour that masked the making of the anti-apartheid film End of the Dialogue.

Peter Brook’s The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of The Marquis de Sade (1968) and Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dali’s The Golden Age (1931) will both be screened in this year’s film programme at the festival.

Three films fall into the Mytho Therapy section, dedicated to South African analyst David Cooper.

The Master (2012) features Oscar-nominated performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix as well as the sci-fi mysticism and techno-analysis of L Ron Hubbard, The Magus (1968) explores the world of tarot divining and All Divided Selves (2012) presents the humane attempts of the Scottish analyst RD Laing to see beyond the immediate and his refusal to counter inner grief with narcotic paralysis. Laing and Cooper worked together to formulate Anti-Psychiatry, hence the dedication.

Premieres include Uwe Boll’s latest revenge fantasy Age of Greed AKA Assault on Wall Street; Vlees (Meat) an unsettling tale of a middle-aged butcher and his violent, atavistic sexual relationship with his teenage shop assistant; Underground: The Julian Assange Story; and Beware of Mr Baker, the tale of young journalist Jay Bulger who manages to get an interview with Ginger Baker, percussionist for Cream, Blind Faith and the one-album super-group Ginger Baker’s Air Force.

Then there’s The War Around Us (2012), a damning critique of the Western media’s reporting on Palestine and Propaganda (2012), which gives a fascinating insight into North Koreans’ view of the West. Or is it?

Since it was first uploaded on to YouTube in July, this bit of 1984 meets Blair Witch Project steadily gained attention until it was outed as a social experiment at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

In an eerie twist, the Christchurch actor who played the scientist in the film is wanted for questioning by South Korean authorities who think he is a North Korean spy.

Films that have played on circuit in South Africa, but which will receive a welcome screening at the festival include: Marley, Searching for Sugar Man, Trishna, Trance, This Must Be the Place, Sound of my Voice, The Sessions, Stoker, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Rum Diary and Mirror-Mirror.

South African films to be screened include Lilian Dube in Gog’ Helen, Michael Rix’s disturbing Accession; buddy cop comedy Blitz Patrollie; Barry Berk’s Sleeper’s Wake; Ntshaveni Wa Luruli’s Venda film Elelwani; two films from Jahmil XT Qubeka – A Small Town Called Descent and a new one, Of Good Report; Akin Omotoso’s Man on Ground and Rickard Pakleppa’s Taste of Rain.

• Film screenings at the National Arts Festival (June 27 to July 7) in Grahamstown are in the Olive Schreiner Hall at the monument on the hill.