Friday, July 4, 2014

Marikana film resonates beyond our borders

“Rehad Desai’s beautifully filmed and uncompromising documentary, ‘Miners Shot Down’, is about so much more than the massacre by police of 34 striking workers at the Lonmin platinum mine at Marikana in August 2012. The film offers a unique prism through which to view contemporary power relations in ‘democratic’ South Africa (and perhaps globally) where the unholy trinity of capital, politics and security were (and are) pitted against labour…” Marianne Thamm, Daily Maverick. 

Miners Shot Down, the documentary that commentators have said every South Afircan should see, is resonating deeply with international audiences. The film has been picked up by no less than seven international broadcast channels, including more recently Al Jazeera English and North America who will air the film from the 13th August onwards, just prior to the second anniversary of the massacre. 

In the four short months since it was released, Miners Shot Down has been screened to large numbers of people at film festivals across the globe, in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and Australasia and will be shown in a host of festivals over the coming months, including special 20 Years of Democracy screenings in Berlin and New York. Several festivals have given the film opening night status - One World, Prague, Sheffield Documentary Festival, UK and iRepresent in Lagos, Nigeria. The film has garnered four awards to date.

Vaclav Havel Award, One World Film Festival, Prague, 2014 – Best Film
Camera Justitia Award, Movies That Matter, Le Hague, 2014 – Best Film
Aung San Suu Kyi Award, Human Rights Human Dignity International Film Festival, Myanmar, 2014 – Best Film
Special Choice Award, Encounters Film Festival, South Africa, 2014

As well as festival screenings, a number of independently organized impact screenings of the film have taken place in Europe, including the UK where, for example, the Islington branch of the National Union of Teachers passed a union resolution in support of the Marikana Justice Campaign after watching the film. There have been floods of requests for similar screenings to be organized in Brazil and other Latin American countries.

In July, the film will be shown at the Durban International Film festival, giving people in Durban another chance to see the film on the big screen. An initial week-long cinema release of the film at Ster Kinekor’s Cinema Nouveau was extended to a three week run in key cinemas, due to popular demand. The Bioscope Cinema in Johannesburg has also shown the film and will do so again in the run up to the 16th August, the second anniversary of the massacre.

In South Africa, in addition to a cinema release, over 140 impact screenings have taken place to date in universities, schools, community halls, mining towns, unions meetings and churches, reaching over 18,000 people in South Africa. Many of these were attended by the filmmaker or representative of the Marikana Justice Campaign, including mineworkers who took part in the 2012 strike and lawyers representing the families of the killed miners at the commission of inquiry.

Miners Shot Down is available to buy from Exclusives bookstores, as well as several independent bookshops and on People are invited to buy the DVD and to organise small screenings in their homes, or workplaces.

Given the notable international reaction to the film, it is surprising that there has been no uptake of the film by free to air broadcasters in South Africa,  4 months on we still await news form SABC. ETV have refused. There is no more efficient way to reach large audiences with a film that "every South African should see” than national television.

Miners Shot Down – Synopsis:
In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days into the strike, the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. The police insisted that they shot in self-defence.

Miners Shot Down tells a different story, one that unfolds in real time over seven days, like a ticking time bomb. The film weaves together the central point-of-view of three strike leaders, Mambush, Tholakele and Mzoxolo, with compelling police footage, TV archive material and interviews with lawyers representing the miners in the ensuing commission of inquiry into the massacre. What emerges is a tragedy that arises out of the deep fault lines in South Africa’s nascent democracy, of enduring poverty and a twenty year old, unfulfilled promise of a better life for all. A  powerful and disturbing film, beautifully shot, sensitively told and featuring a haunting soundtrack, Miners Shot Down points to how far the African National Congress has strayed from its progressive liberationist roots and leaves audiences with an uncomfortable view of those that profit from minerals in the global South.

For more information about Miners Shot Down, please visit:  
Like us on Facebook: Miners Shot Down
Follow us on Twitter: @minersshotdown.