Film premieres despite gagging bids
The biggest challenge for South African film-maker and TV journalist Joseph Oesi when he created the gripping documentary Black Lives Matter, were the attempted gagging orders by mining houses.
Black Lives Matter, which premieres at the Durban International Film Festival today at the Maharani, is a powerful reflection on the state of thousands of miners working and living across South Africa.
Despite the gagging orders, Oesi, 53, has not been deterred from showing the 104-minute long documentary because he believes the story needs to be told.
One of the film’s central focuses is the devastating Marikana Massacre of August 2012 that saw 34 striking mineworkers shot dead by the police.
“The film delves into the history of the mining sector and the political back story that led up to the tragedy. Its core emphasis is that nothing has changed for most miners across South Africa. After the Marikana Massacre, it dawned heavily on me that there was a huge problem and that its story needed to be told.” Oesi said.
“The movie brings about pertinent debates in South Africa. The uneven distribution and treatment of miners is not just a South African problem but in Africa as a whole. There seems to be a manipulation of our resources and those whose land reaps in mineral wealth don’t benefit.”
Oesi, who spends his time between homes in Johannesburg and London, said the movie started to unfold late in 2012 and required a lot of research. He roped in controversial artist Ayanda Mabulu for social commentary.
He painted The Pornography of Power.
Oesi, who is from Clermont, said the film would take viewers on a journey through the lives of three rural families, the Mogales, the Kekanas, and the Mapelas.
“What they have in common is that the richest platinum-bearing reef in the world runs under their land, and that international mining companies have made dubious deals with traditional leaders whose legitimacy is questioned by those they supposedly serve.
“Black Lives Matter explores how the mineral wealth, rightfully belonging to the people of South Africa, has been sold to capitalist interests for the enrichment of a few elite and at the expense of the country. It also shows how traditional communities have been divided by this process.
“The corruption at all levels of society impacts not only on the moral fabric of our society, but also on the working class poor.”
There is no general release date for the documentary, but Oesi is confident it will premier at the Toronto and Vancouver film festivals this year if negotiations with the organisers are successful.