A scene from the movie The Art of Fallism, now showing at the Durban International Film Festival.
A scene from the movie The Art of Fallism, now showing at the Durban International Film Festival.

The Art of Fallism: The fight of a lifetime

Time of article published Sep 15, 2020

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By Elinoro Véronique Rajaonah

Film Review: The Art of Fallism

The Art of Fallism, directed by Aslaug Aarsæther and Gunnbjørg Gunnarsdóttir, is the story of the South African student protests of 2015, one that made headline news and reverberated around the world and was chronicled with hashtags like #RhodesMustFall.

But it is also an insider’s account of the tensions and contradictions within the activism movement that was demanding better from their school administrations and the government.

Using a mix of talking heads and on-the-ground coverage of the struggle at the University of Cape Town, The Art of Fallism chronicles the courage and motivations of the students at the forefront of the various fallist movements. The film is also a story of inclusivity that allows for a diversity of voices that were at least in theory, united by a common cause.

This documentary gives voice to the activists, to the struggles as well as the microaggressions that arose from the movement, highlighting the often sidelined voices of women and the trans community. In this way The Art of Fallism feels like a corrective to many of the historical struggles that often centre on the actions of (white) men. As though they were the only actors. Audiences are able to grasp how fundamentally flawed many movements can be when they make no room for inclusion and shared responsibilities.

The Art of Fallism critiques the kind of society that elevates violence as the only response to oppression. In such instances, power becomes a prize to be seized by the loudest and the strongest, leaving minorities as dispensable, to be used and dispatched soon after. It doesn’t only accuse the system but also the movement, indicting people who would rather look away from oppression of any other group, as long as the problem doesn’t affect them.

If there is any lesson that The Art of Fallism offers, it is that unfair structures must be dismantled. But while doing so, a lot of deliberate introspection is mandatory so that at the end of the day oppressors aren't simply replaced, but are made redundant.

* The Art of Fallism can be viewed free online at the Durban International Film Festival here until September 20. View the trailer here.

Reviewer Elinoro Véronique Rajaonah

* Elinoro Véronique Rajaonah is a young Malagasy film critic, who has been critiquing films for two years. She has always been fascinated by visual arts, is an illustrator and has a keen interest in storytelling. Rajaonah participated in the recent Talents Press, an initiative of Talents Durban in collaboration with the Durban FilmMart.

The Independent on Saturday

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