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Mthunzi

Tebogo Malebogo
South Africa, 2019, 9 min.

In English.
Includes adult language.

Cultural tensions come to the forefront when a passer-by attempts to help a seizing woman.

Director's Statement

The working title for our film was Proviso. A proviso is an addition or qualification attached to a statement, gesture or agreement. I feel all people have provisos attached to how they live. How they should act, talk, stand, dress, etc in order to be accepted in certain environments. A woman in an all-male workplace. A homosexual man who has to hide his orientation. A mixed-race person depending on what side of family they're with. Mthunzi, our protagonist, is being reminded of his proviso. Despite being in this home to help, his race takes a forefront. Partially autobiographical, it's a young man's reminder of society's snap-judgement of people who look like him.

The idea first came to me when I was walking through a suburban neighborhood and saw a lady faint in her doorway. I helped her grandson carry her inside and on my way out, one of her other family members questioned why I was in the house. I had to explain to him what had happened to his own family member. Even after explaining, there was an unease that stayed in the air, it clouded the whole scene and prevented us from seeing each other as anything more than society had conditioned us to see. He appeared ready to defend his family from me, a cue their dog took as it snarled at my feet on my way out.

As I sat on that moment, I began to think about the real fears we face in a country like South Africa. How we are conditioned, without it being our fault. I became interested in exploring those spaces, finding the limit. What happens if someone who looks like this enters this space? What are the stakes? How much explaining needs to be done? We hope this project will be a way to interrogate these ideas. To use a form as malleable as filmmaking to interrogate a small part of our own place in the world, not only so that we can understand others, but for others to look into themselves and reconsider their own surroundings.

Category: Drama.
Themes: Identity, Politics, World Cinema.

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