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Picks of the Week

Valley of a Thousand Hills — Jess Colquhoun

If you are looking for some incredibly precocious and adorable kids, you need look no further than a small town in rural KwaZulu-Natal. There you will find the Indigo Skate Park and the young girls and boys who delight in tearing up the tarmac (or wood, or whatever) on skateboards. It’s inspiring stuff. Their town is far from a picture of affluence, and yet the people who live there seem to inhabit a profoundly joyful state of being, and they bring that energy and effervescence to skating. But to them it’s more than just a sport. As one of the kids comments, it keeps children from playing in the street, where they might get hurt, and gives them purpose and passion. The short docu is beautifully put together, with lots of really wonderful imagery, like a gas station worker watching the kids skate, which suggests really rich themes and ideas underpinning what on the surface looks to be just a simple piece about the wonders of skateboarding for rural children. As the film’s ostensible host, Andile, tells us: “We are skateboarders because we want to live a life that is good and… awesome.” Well, you are succeeding in spades Andile.

Where We Are: Voice Notes From South African Women

It’s pretty obvious to just about anybody paying attention that we still have major problems with gender equality, not just in this country but across the globe. In honour of Women’s Day, Casimir released a video in which a diverse group of South African women discuss the challenges they face today, and their hopes for a better tomorrow. Even if you think you’ve heard it before, it’s worth hearing again, and this group of women in particular speaks with incredible eloquence on these issues. As one states: “We use these terms like patriarchy, cisgender, and cis heterosexual, but we don’t realise that many times these people don’t even know what we’re talking about because we have the privilege of having access to that kind of language.” The point is incredibly astute, putting a finger on the idea that we in positions of privilege have to be very conscious of the issues, but also understanding and tolerant of those who don’t have the benefit of the perspectives we have such easy access to.

Mr Madumane (Big $pendah) — Cassper Nyovest

You may not believe it, but this video was created in collaboration with Sanlam for National Savings Month. And if you think a brand sponsoring a hip hop music video to make a commercial point sounds uncool, you know what, brands can do cool stuff too okay! [link to INDIE Channel music video grant winner]. In this case, that cool thing is a music video from Cassper Nyovest and director Kyle Lewis that comments on (and wonderfully sends up) ostentatious spending habits, the highlight of which being a tiny, tiny, blinged-up car that relies on some dudes instead of hydraulics to make it bounce. But the real star of the video is the on point (excuse me… ON POINT) editing and camera work. The canted angles galore remind us of some of our favourite recent music videos [link to INDIE Channel music video grant winner] and whoever edited this thing is a freakin’ mad genius and should be confined to an edited bay for the sake of humanity. So throw some money into a savings account/piggy bank/mattress and get down to this jam.

Drawing Time-Lapse — Jono Dry

It’s rare to get a glimpse into an artist’s creative process, especially a visual artist who’s process may take weeks, or even months, to run its course. Thank goodness for time-lapse videos then. We get to watch illustrator Jono Dry take a blank piece of paper and work his magic over the course of a few weeks. It’s really incredible to see it all come together right before our eyes — the attention to detail, the assured penmanship. But really the most astounding thing is the almost abstract nature of the work before it is completed, where in the end the result is completely realistic. This suggests, as is surely the case, that Dry is able to envision the final work in its entirety from the start, down to the minutia, and is able to create it piece by piece without the benefit of really being able to see how it’s going to turn out until its done. If you’re an artist or not, this is something to be in awe of.

Here I Am — Grassy Spark

Coming by way of Thor Rixon and Cape Town-based reggae-ska band Grassy Spark is a fun and lively video for their track Here I Am. Initially the video conveys a strong feeling of jeopardy, which seems directly opposed to the vibe of the music. But when the first portal appears, it takes a turn. Yeah, portals. I have a special place in my heart for these low-fi sci-fi music videos that employ one simple fantastical element to great effect in order to add another dimension to the story (in this case kinda literally). What you end up with here is a video that calls to mind Harry Potter/Back to the Future type time-travel situations, which are honestly always delightful. Also you can definitely pull some interesting thematic ideas from the scenario if, you know, that’s your thing. But this is a great romp to accompany a very nifty-keen song. Looking forward to seeing more from Grassy Spark in the future.

Sam Besser enjoys writing about arts and entertainment because he likes pretending people care about his opinions. He is a great lover of film and a casual lover of 15th-century stained glass windows. These interests rarely intersect.