April 23, 2015

man on ground screeening @wits africa week

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 10:47 am


October 8, 2014

the acknowledgement

Filed under: akin omotoso,politics,race — ABRAXAS @ 4:18 pm


September 25, 2014

now you can watch man on ground on buni tv

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 7:05 am


sign in here: http://buni.tv/video/man-ground/

June 6, 2014

tell them we are from here @national arts festival

Filed under: akin omotoso,art,films edited by kaganof,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 10:11 am


May 21, 2014

tell them we are from here @national arts festival

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 8:19 pm

Screen shot 2014-05-17 at 1.02.54 PM

December 17, 2013

man on ground rated #2 film of 2013

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 12:02 pm

Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 12.00.59 PM

first published here: http://www.ynaija.com/confusion-na-wa-man-on-ground-flower-girl-we-present-the-10-best-films-of-2013/

November 6, 2013


Filed under: akin omotoso — ABRAXAS @ 6:42 am

Screen shot 2013-11-06 at 6.41.16 AM

first published here: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/sa-political-thriller-is-akin-s-new-start-1.1601656#.UnnIJSRJP0N

November 1, 2013

we are from here

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 9.41.09 PM

keep reading this article here: http://thenewage.co.za/46256-1022-53-Perspective_of_the_Man_On_Ground

August 28, 2013

Akin Omotoso on roger corman’s little shop of horrors

Filed under: akin omotoso,film,Frieda Grafe — ABRAXAS @ 4:24 pm


In the 1961 film by Nicholas Ray, »King of Kings«, John the Baptist asks Jesus: »Was it you who was foretold or are we to expect another?« I can imagine someone asking Roger Corman this when his first film »Monster from the Ocean Floor« in 1954 burst into cinema’s collective conscious. For me, the other is of course that boiling pot of an industry called Nollywood. An industry that I respect totally and share some of the values and ethos of the Roger Corman canon. To stretch the quote from King of Kings: »…we didn’t expect another but another rose.«


I can’t remember the first time or where I heard of Roger Corman but what I saw and heard was enough, and the man’s name stuck with me then and ever since. I was three feet high and rising at the time in the South African film industry and similarly to Roger, I never went to film school. What I knew then and believe now with all my heart is that telling stories was the fuel that drove me. As a child I would devour stories. I wrote my first novel at six. One of my Uncles used to ask me: »Why do all the characters die?« My response apparently was that »otherwise it would be too long.« Later at drama school I decided to become a director, having long abandoned my dreams of being a novelist. The cinema would be my canvas of choice. In the absence of decent film schools at the time in South Africa, I turned my attention to the masters and mistresses of cinema.

Directors and their films became my teachers. I devoured everything I could find on directors. Ousmane Sembène, Raoul Peck, Spike Lee, Julie Dash, Martin Scorsese, Sidney Poitier, Djibril Diop-Mambety, Alfred Hitchcock to name a few. I would read up everything about these directors and watch their films, and by so doing I was learning the language of cinema from these pioneers. And what was that language? Not just visual story telling but also the power of cinema. There is no music like that musical score in the Korean film »3-Iron« directed by Kim Ki-Duk, no drama like the drama in the cinema of Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi, and I have never seen anything to equal the fire and excitement of Mira Nair’s »Moonson Wedding«. Watching these films fuelled my passion.

Then I re-discovered »The University of Roger Corman«. His films were never my focus. I am not entirely sure how I feel about all of his films or even if their genres appealed to me. This of course has never been the essence of Roger Corman for me. It was what he was doing and how he was doing it that I latched on to. I liked the idea that he was independent; I liked the fact that his films cost less and made him money; independence is a huge aspect of the film industry. Kwame Nkrumah said first of his newly independent Ghana: »Seek ye first political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you«. If I had Commandments for filmmakers I would start with that. It is a difficult position to negotiate. Independence. In this day and age, when most African filmmakers source funding from Europe and key on the list of requirements is that your film has to say something about AIDS or poverty, I like the independence of Nollywood. And it’s that independence I recognize in Roger. I like the passion with which he empowered younger filmmakers and actors. The roll call of people he gave opportunity to reads like the hall of fame today: Jack Nicholson, Ron Howard, Peter Bogdanovich, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme. Sometimes filmmakers affect others without even knowing it. In one of my early short films I had no idea about framing a scene in a restaurant with two characters talking. While it seems absurd now, it wasn’t to me at the time. I had no idea where to put the camera. I saw a documentary where Jonathan Demme (a »University of Roger Corman« alumni) said when he made his first film he had gone the night before to watch some other film and he copied the shots in that film to help him get through at least his first day of the shoot. Cut to: me fast forwarding through all the VHS tapes in my mother’s house trying to find a film that had a scene with two people talking in a restaurant so I could copy the shots. That’s »Corman 101« in action.

If the »University of Corman« or »UniCorm« as I like to call it, has a curriculum it would be something like this. Firstly, the emphasis on the low budget. As Jack Nicholson says in the documentary »Corman’s World«: »They (the films) weren’t pretending to be something else.« Fast forward years later to »Nollywood 101«. Those films stand out because they weren’t pretending to be something else. They were a true voice. Nollywood for me, at the time when I discovered it, was a breath of fresh air. The first Nollywood film was »Living in Bondage«. An industry was born. Today in the popular hit track »Oliver Twist« by D’banj he references Nollywood actresses as well as Hollywood royalty. The music video also features an appearance by Kanye West. It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish. I might not have ever made a film that could be classified as Nollywood but I most certainly have adopted, like Corman’s students have, some of their ethos. I remember Ron Howard talking about filming the mega big budget film staring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman called »Far and Away«. If memory serves, he spoke about how on a particular day they were running out of time and losing light. He found himself, he said, channelling his inner Roger Corman, and rushing with one cameraman and Tom and Nicole to chase the light. Corman has made over 200 films. Throw a stone in the Nollywood shop of talent and you would find filmmakers with a standard 200-film résumé, and that’s before breakfast. Nollywood might have started with »Living in Bondage« but today the films are screened in multiplexes the world over. Corman might have started with »Monster on the Sea Floor« but he inspired the blockbusters of today. Spielberg’s masterpiece film »Jaws« was essentially a B-Grade movie done with better production value. The rest is history. »Jaws« and »Star Wars« changed the tide of American films and also Roger Corman’s cinema. A high gloss big budget blockbuster had replaced the low budget film. We don’t know where Nollywood will end up but we have seen what Corman has influenced in America. Corman continues to make films but refuses to change his ethos.

I had an interesting experience watching »The Little Shop of Horrors«. I couldn’t remember if I had seen it before. An image popped into my mind of a plant eating people but I couldn’t quite place it. As the film started with that beautiful cartoon drawing and the voice of the detective, I found myself remembering that I had seen it all on stage. As a child I always liked macabre stories and I enjoyed this one immensely. The fact that the success of the shop is tied to blood reminded me of the line from »Interview with the Vampire«: »Drink from me and live forever«. The constant craving of the plant, like Cookie Monster from »Sesame Street«. The film is hilarious as well. I love the interplay of the characters. It is filled with great lines like: »It’s a finger of speech!« Shot over two and a half days, the tale of a man ultimately destroyed by his creation. It’s the stuff of movie legend.

In the documentary »Corman’s World«, he is compared to the Arab maxim: The dogs bark but the caravan moves on. Corman and Nollywood for me continue to move mobile memories forward, the rest of us are barking.

first published here: http://www.friedagrafe.net/film-view/128

August 2, 2013

tell them we are from here

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof — ABRAXAS @ 11:01 pm

General/ Pictures & Triptych

Tell Them We Are From Here (TTWAFH) is an anti-xenophobia, non-governmental organisation that sprang to life in 2011. It was created in order to encourage community dialogue and action on the issue of xenophobia under the banner “We Are From Here”, ‘here’ being planet earth. In an effort to understand why the riots of 2008 broke out, a researcher was hired to go into the most riot-affected townships and interview people. In her research she came across a young foreign national man who, when asked what he would say to his attackers were he to meet them again, he responded with: “Tell them we are from here” here being planet earth.

This exhibition is the pioneer project for 2012. Four months of this year were spent traveling to different provinces in the country. We screened the film Man on Ground to people in Musina, Durban, Cape Town and Malelane. After the screenings we interviewed the viewers about their thoughts on the movie and xenophobia in their hometowns. Their responses form the basis of this exhibition. In one way or another all of them have come into contact with xenophobia. Whether actively or passively, in one way or another, all of us have come in contact with xenophobia as well. What follows are their thoughts, their experiences and their stories where they tell you where they are from, that being here, here being planet earth.

The Documentary & Canvas

Five years after the 2008 xenophobic riots we wanted to find out how people on the ground were thinking and experiencing xenophobia. Statistics show that more foreign nationals are dying in South Africa in 2013 than there were in 2008 when the riots broke out. With the film Man On Ground as a point of departure, we screened the film and interviewed those that saw it. What follows is a short documentary that depicts the thoughts and personal experiences of people in various provinces across the country.

After watching the footage, please write down your thoughts and feelings on the accompanying canvas. The canvas is a palimpsest of memory, opinion, thought and feeling. It is a place to speak without fear of judgment or censorship.

July 15, 2013

man on ground at national arts festival

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 3:14 pm

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 3.12.55 PM

first published here: http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/what-s-on/gauteng/diverse-offerings-at-film-festival-1.1544038#.UeP1EFNJP0M

June 18, 2013

man on ground namibian premiere on 29 june

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,south african cinema — ABRAXAS @ 8:10 pm


June 7, 2013

project: Tell them we are from here – Akin Omotoso

Filed under: akin omotoso — ABRAXAS @ 8:58 pm

The Big Read: Football died a little the night Asamoah Gyan missed a penalty against Uruguay. Had he scored, Ghana would have become the first African team to advance to the semifinals of the World Cup. It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Yet, as I left the stadium that night, I was filled with joy. More than 80000 people had cheered the Ghanaians on.

Africans united. Before returning home, the team went on a farewell tour to thank the South African fans who had adopted them as their own.

For a Pan Africanist, this was what dreams are made of. However, I kept remembering a sobering reality: the World Cup had been preceded by rumours of impending xenophobic attacks; that after the international community had turned off the spotlight on South Africa, some people were going to rid South Africa of “foreigners”.

Hearing this, I was reminded of Italo Calvino’s story about a city whose inhabitants, once they get bored, relocate to another city which is empty, and where everything starts afresh.

Doomed to repeat the same actions and discourses in the new city, they never learn anything. I was also reminded of a Somali taxi driver in Toronto, Canada, who, when I told him I was from South Africa, asked “Why are you killing my people?” I had no answer; all I could do was apologise.

That was in September 2007.

In May 2008 news reports of merciless attacks on “foreigners” hit the headlines. The shell-shocked nation watched bystanders laugh as Ernesto Nhamuave was burned to death. Someone said: “It would have been better if they gave us a warning and told us to leave.”

At first I was struck by the irony of how we, in 2010, could welcome a host of people then threaten to chase others out.

Then came the denials. Politicians claimed it was a ploy to take away South Africa’s shine, and that it was an effort to instill fear.

Whatever the reason, on Saturday July 10 a friend’s tweet jogged me back to a morning in May 2008 when I received an SMS that read: “Good morning, Sir, . pls be informed that there is a plan to attack Nigerians from today till Sunday. Save life and inform our brothers.”

The 2010 message I received read: “My cousin arrived home to a sign on the gate that read: ‘All foreigners will be removed in 11 days’.”

I told a journalist, who had written about the rumours. He was speechless with shame.

Reminded of the words of Wole Soyinka, “In any people that submit willingly to the daily humiliation of fear, the man dies”, I decided not to submit to fear or wait until the threats were taken seriously, unsure of what that would require. A dead body or two?

On Facebook, I suggested to my friends that we turn our attention to the threat of xenophobic violence. Many responded by suggesting marches and public-service announcements.

Actress and poet Masello Motana announced that she was embarking on a walk-and-talk mission through the Joburg CBD last Monday. I decided to join her.

The morning after Spain had been declared Soccer World champions and had jetted out of South Africa as if they were in fear of attack, Motana and I walked the streets talking to taxi drivers, passengers and others hoping to start a dialogue and encourage people to dissuade others from attacking “foreigners”.

M ost people condemned any form of killing. But their repudiation of violence seemed to always include a “but”. “Foreigners must not come and bring crime,” said one woman.

A pragmatic man spoke of not wanting to chase anyone away because they brought him business. We were told of taxi drivers who slapped Shangaan men, but this was stopped by the taxi owners.

A trader told us that, usually, the police patrolled the area, but not on that Monday morning.

Not prepared to shut down his business just yet, and convinced of God’s protection, he was nevertheless ready to leave like his fellow traders whose stalls were empty.

The climate of fear had worked. The empty stalls and headlines shouting: “Xenophobia: What xenophobia?” convinced me that I am no longer interested in repetition. I want to effect change. As an artist, I can do it artistically; as a citizen I can do it as a member of civil society.

Two days after our walk-and-talk, Motana headed to Diepsloot with actor Tsepo Maseko to continue the dialogue. Actress Sthandiwe Kgoroge is making a public-service announcement.

If the problem is about scarce resources, then let’s solve it. If the problem is fear of increased crime, let’s address it. Whatever the problem, there is no justification for killing or harming anyone.

During one of the country’s proudest moments – I shake my head in disbelief as I learn that three Somalis and a Ghanaian (the irony is not going unmissed) have been shot since the end of the World Cup, and that a Zimbabwean has been thrown off a train. Is this really happening again?

Sick and tired of this degeneration of a potentially great society, I am deeply moved by the words of a boy who, when asked what he wanted to tell those who chased him out of his home in 2008, said: “Tell them we are from here.”

That is what I will call my next film. Tell Them We Are From Here. Here being planet Earth.

first published here: http://www.timeslive.co.za/opinion/2010/07/19/tell-them-we-are-from-here

project: tell them we are from here – makhosazane mawela

Filed under: akin omotoso,politics — ABRAXAS @ 7:28 pm


project: tell them we are from here – michael mabaso

Filed under: akin omotoso,politics — ABRAXAS @ 7:05 pm


project: tell them we are from here

Filed under: akin omotoso — ABRAXAS @ 5:36 pm


project: tell them we are form here – dali mahlanza

Filed under: akin omotoso,politics — ABRAXAS @ 3:07 pm


project: tell them we are from here – moses isa mulaudzi

Filed under: akin omotoso — ABRAXAS @ 3:02 pm


project: tell them we are from here – phale musi

Filed under: akin omotoso — ABRAXAS @ 2:20 pm


May 25, 2013

project: tell them we are from here – councillor bigboy ndou

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 9:55 am


project: tell them we are from here – josephine chiweta

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 8:15 am


May 22, 2013

project: tell them we are from here – robert ramphabana

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 9:56 pm


project: tell them we are from here – jirak feleke mekonnen

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 9:12 pm


project: tell them we are from here – tesfagabir tesfu

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 8:59 pm


project: tell them we are from here – chantal boule

Filed under: akin omotoso,films edited by kaganof,politics — ABRAXAS @ 8:53 pm


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