Land and Identity is a powerful film on the land issue in Cape Town

2018-05-27 00:00
Land and Identity

FILM REVIEW: This documentary examines what home will represent to a new generation, facing forced removals.

Showing at Encounters South African International Documentary Festival

Land and Identity

Directors: Nomakhomazi Dewavrin, Okuhle Dyo

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Land and Identity, part two of the SABC1 six-part documentary series Youth Culture, looks at issues of gentrification and spacial planning in Cape Town. It follows 26-year-old Laverne Maart from Hanover Park and 17-year-old Jayden Salagee from Plumstead, as well as poet and activist Kim Windvogel, as they navigate and construct their individual identities as young coloureds in a still-segregated Cape Town.

Maart and Salagee describe their contrasting experiences growing up in Hanover Park and Plumstead in expressive interviews and voice-overs. Maart shapes her sense of identity away from home, where who she is and wants to be are different to the realities of home. Salagee is rooted in Plumstead, but his family is faced with a forced removal to the unfamiliar Pelican Park.

As happened in apartheid, well-located areas occupied by coloured people are still being targeted by government to relocate these people to unfamiliar areas where they don’t want to live.

These are questions that a brave Saligee puts to a government official – asking clearly why, after paying for decades for the homes in which they live, government doesn’t simply hand over the deeds. The condescending answer is one reason you should watch this documentary.

This film is directed by sisters Nomakhomazi Dewavrin and Okuhle Dyosopu, film makers based in Nelson Mandela Bay. The duo have successfully produced 10 documentaries in the past four years.

With the current political debate swirling around our historical land issues, this film is a moving account of the effect housing and land allocation has on children and families. How the decisions made by the government of the Western Cape – because of greed and suspicious policy – uproot people, evicting them from the only home and communities that they’ve known for decades.

Land and Identity starts a conversation to help shape the truth of a community that continues to feel ping-ponged in its city long after democracy. The only thing missing from this film is that no one has a plan for the future or has evolved the conversation to one of action. Nevertheless this story is powerfully told by young voices. Its simple format gives the film freshness, with rich views of the Atlantic seaboard contrasting with the grittiness of the Cape Flats and the homeliness of Plumstead – a place that will soon not be home to its community any more – unfairly so. – Rhodé Marshall

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