Tiny Couch Review

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The Film Movement No One Saw Coming


South African film has come a long way since the 1900’s and we’ve been slowly developing into a country that seeks to stand out from the rest while maintaining our authentic Mzansi voice. (I’ve been meaning to do this for a while because I’ve always wondered about film movements in the country).

 

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eKasi: Our Stories and Lokshin Bioscope are two platforms that were monumental in launching what I came to call South Africa’s “Kasi Film Movement”. Films that came from these two platforms (and other smaller platforms) introduced the South African audience to fresh faces that later became household names, but also provided the audience with a broad selection of local made for TV films.

Many would argue with me and say eKasi/Lokshin films do not form a film movement and, I would disagree with them, though majority of the films were bad. They still had an impact on how others made films and how audiences reacted to them (they played a part in the culture of instant commentary through social media). I think we didn’t consider this an important period in South African filmmaking (which is still going on) because we’re not really a nation that focuses too much on the scholar effects of art.

 
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“Kasi Film Movement” and why it’s a film movement;

Themes: The films all had similar themes that seemed to showcase the somewhat daily happenings of ordinary South Africans. The movement’s major themes were mainly adultery, crimes (rapes & petty crimes) and family drama (the family drama films constantly showcased the black South African family and their trials and tribulations), but there was also room for genre expansion as a township humour came on the rise and for a while eclipsed the dramas, most of the current sitcoms are molded by the township comedy troupe. TV shows also, such as Zone14 followed similar themes and shooting style. The themes were rooted in realism.
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Style: Stylistically the films all followed a similar pattern. They came across as of better quality than their Nollywood counterparts, while unintentionally maintaining an independent feel and approach to them. Visually, the camera provided one dimensional shots. Though the filmmakers were still able to bring the audience into their characters wonderful worlds. One could even find a hint of Cinéma vérité in the Kasi films. The movement also brought the “dusty field orange colour” into popular culture as the films were popping in orange and the others were high in contrast and dimly light which provided a really dark and moody feel to them. If I were to describe them in one word I’d say minimalist.
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Location: We’ll there’s not much to say here as the films mostly happened in the hood (eKasi) but they were deviated and were shot in the rural areas and suburbs. The locations were a representation of the everyday conditions and psyche of the people. The locations sometimes showcased similar elements to Italian Neorealism such as poverty, injustice and desperation. The locations are post-apartheid era locations, the “rainbow nation” South Africa is shown, and the conditions black people live in after gaining democracy.
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Character: The characters can be described as being “regular”. They spoke like common black South Africans that was relatable to the audience they were aimed at. Various body shapes played leads, while also forming stereotypes for the pretty female character, the character always seemed to follow a stereotypical pattern (she was either being cheated on or being raped). The characters we’re mainly involved in social injustice storylines or messy township comedies. The actors were mainly first time actors or non-actors, who saw a rise in their fame afterwards (Mapaseka Koetle, Ishmauel Songo and even Khanyi Mbau). Working “known” actors were also featured from time to time.
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Consumption: The films being aired on free-to-air TV and subscription TV was a reason in the migration from “SABC” to “ETV” and “Multichoice” as it provided a breath of fresh air to the viewers. They also have dedicated channels that play the films for 24hrs such as Mzansi Wethu, Mzansi Bioscope, and ETV’s dedicated timeslot on Monday evenings at 21:00 (being the most popular), which was extremely out of the box as this wasn’t a prime spot for independent film, as soapies had reign during this time. The success helped ETV launch its own dedicated channel years later.
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Film movements are never really meant to last forever but they do define a certain time in the filmmaking culture of the place of origin it comes from. I personally feel like the reign of the “Kasi Film Movement” is not dead, though the hype might have died down, the film movement will surely rise again and see itself moving from being mainly TV films to the big screen, certain big screen films can be seen as falling under the movement. I have to add that a few aspects of it will change once it moves to the big screen becoming a new movement on its own.

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