IOL's Youth Day Film Festival: Watch Nadine Cloete's short film Miseducation
Cape Town - It may only be 4 minutes long, but Nadine Cloete's short film Why Poverty - Miseducation packs a punch that is felt long after the credits roll.
The documentary, which follows 11-year-old Kelina on her daily trip to school in an area in Cape Town riddled with guns, drugs and violence, is part of the 2012 Peabody Award-winning series WHY POVERTY? which takes an in depth look at global inequality.
The short film by Cloete is one of the must-see documentaries included in the line-up for IOL's Youth Day Mini Film Festival. We urge to pause and watch your rise as we screen documentaries and features on IOL's website and YouTube channel.
WATCH MISEDUCATION BELOW:
Riana Howa spoke to Nadine Cloete, director at Ma`engerè Film Productions, about Miseducation.
I read that your acclaimed documentary Action Kommandant - the Untold Story of Revolutionary Freedom Fighter Ashley Kriel took you 7 years to make, how long did this one take?
Not quite as long ! Actual production was 3 or 4 days. Pitching the project and pre-production was a long process though. Going back into my emails I see the concept was approved by producers of the Why Poverty series in November 2011. We went into production in July/August 2012.
Why did you choose this topic? Tell me about the idea and how you developed it?
The idea was pitched to be part of the Why Poverty series. It was a series that was looking to speak about poverty in different, non-stereotypical ways. The greatest tool out of poverty is education, but there's a different education needed to survive in order to just get to school.
I made a film in the early 2000s also called Miseducation. This looked at the fact that we don't only have the right to an education but also a safe education. This was a short fiction film that won first prize at the Youth For Human Rights International Film Festival held in Los Angeles in 2005.
I want to make a series of films called Miseducation that continue the conversation. I'm inspired by conversations with family members who are teachers and also the way kids talk about school. Lately I realise ordinary conversations influence my work a lot.
Who is Keline and how did you get her and her family to give you access in such an intimate way?
At the time of pitching the film I only had the idea and no character really confirmed. I met up with a number of kids who had to walk to school but also I was looking for someone who I didn't have to interview intensely. I was looking for a young voice who I could really ask a few questions to and they would be able to carry the story. I met Kelina through her school principal. I then had conversations with the family about the film, about what production would entail and communicating as openly as possible. I think Kelina is an amazing, intelligent, brave young person. I need to touch base with her again.
As a journalist I had to think twice about showing a movie where the looming faces of the gangsters she passes are clearly visible. Tell me about this and other choices you made in this short film.
It was interesting to film that from the point of view of a child, to show the world a child has to navigate. It's meant to be an ordinary walk to school but really isn't. Perhaps we as society should question what is 'the ordinary'. We also asked permission before filming anyone that closely.
Those 4 minutes really pack a punch. Why 4 minutes?
It was pitched as a short film concept. As you say the 4 minutes "pack a punch" and the editor and I felt that the message and emotions we wanted to communicate develop well in that time frame.
Please tell us about the process and the style?
It was interesting - we filmed with two children as possible main characters for the film. I also had a different structure in mind for it. Initially I was thinking of the film as a walk-and-talk, but found it was better to actually do the interview first. I did a walk-and-talk for research and found that brings quite a few challenges from sound issues to crowd control. In the edit we chose our main character. We actually had three different versions of the edit. We decided to go with the dream-like sequence because it carried more emotional weight and provided more of a turning point in the narrative. The word 'Miseducation' is inspired by Lauryn Hill's album of the same name.
The style was influenced by knowing the story must be told from the character's point of view.
Documentaries seem to be more accessible these days, in the age of YouTube, Netflix and Showmax. Do you agree? And why did you make this film available on YouTube?
Yeah, I agree. Miseducation actually premiered on the New York Times Op-Doc site before premiering at festivals. That was the first of my films to do that. And now so many filmmakers are premiering online. Even Spike Lee's new film, 'Da 5 Bloods' was done through Netflix.
The YouTube decision was mainly a producing team decision but it was important to get it out on as many platforms as possible. The film currently stands at over 50 000 views. I'm still fine tuning my distribution knowledge though!
Racism, poverty, gangsterism, violence against women and children. We seem to be fighting the same battles for a long time. What are your thoughts on issues facing SA youth today?
The violence and deaths and constant injustice really breaks my heart. How do you even be "normal", how do you continue with so many things coming at you constantly? A young talent, dancer and queer activist, Kirvan Fortuin was allegedly killed by a 14-year-old. What kind of society have we become?
I think Miseducation shows how poverty is a violence, the violence of our past. I think our duty as youth is to dismantle the structures that never worked. It's not an overnight thing but we have to draw on each other for the strength to continue. The struggle for a new society can never be successful without youth. Leadership has to be intergenerational or nothing.
What are you up to nowadays in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic?
I've been doing lots of narrative writing work, so that's something really new. A new short fiction film I directed called Address Unknown will be released soon. I'm also exploring distribution avenues for other work. Resting has also been important.
Do you have a special message ahead of Youth Day?
I encourage youth to take care of their mental health and seek help if they need it. There's a 24-hour mental health number 080 045 6789 or check other numbers on SADAG.
* IOL Youth Day Mini Film Festival selection also includes Professor Siona O’Connell’s documentary The Wynberg 7: An Intolerable Amnesia about a group of high school students imprisoned in the 80s, Weaam Williams’award-winning film Hip Hop Revolution; artist Haroon Gunn-Salie's site-specific work Zonnebloem renamed; the story of Keletso, a young geologist, who is passionate about the protection of the beautiful environment she grew up in, UPRIZE by Sifiso Khanyile, about June 16, 1976, what came before and the impact of that day; Rehad Desai's look at the #FeesMustFall movement entitled Everything Must Fall and more.
Watch along with us this Youth Day and reflect on where we have come from and the battles ahead.IOL