Friday, April 26, 2013

Review of 'Otelo Burning'

An independent film about young Black surfers in Durban as apartheid draws to a close. Very understated, the sort of thing that gets described as a 'coming of age' movie, but with a background of violence in the townships.

A few observations. One, Inkhatha; I had almost completely forgotten that Inkatha had ever existed. Then, we were told that the struggle between the ANC and Inkatha was an ethnic one. But in the absence of apartheid, Inkatha just melted away because it no longer had any purpose. Interesting to remember this, and one wonders how many other apparently grass-roots movements will turn out to be constructions in the same way. Surprised to discover it still exists; certainly the UK media has lost all interest.

Two, the depictions of apartheid in the film; to say the least, subtle. Apart from one sign on the beach there is no sign of any 'petty apartheid'. The white people in the surfing competition fraternity don't seem particularly surprised to see a Black competitor. The people in the township have almost no connection with the wider world of South Africa - no work, nothing. Maybe that's realistic - a Hollywood film would have emphasized the racist attitudes and the discrimination.

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