What Was Happening When

1980 – Mandla

When two dim-witted thieves escape from prison and ransack Mandla’s house, the young boy’s parents believe he and his friend are to blame. Determined to prove their innocence, Mandla and his pal set off in search of the true culprits.

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January

14 – The local community at Soekmekaar resists forced removal and damages the police station.

March

12 – The Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk (NGK) together with its sister churches for Blacks (the NGK in Afrika), Coloureds (the NG Sendingkerk) and Indians (the Reformed Church in Africa), issue a statement that the Churches will bring no objection in principle should authorities judge that circumstances justify reconsideration of the Immorality Act and the Mixed Marriages Act.

April

4 – Umkhonto we Sizwe attacks the Booysens Police Station in Johannesburg with grenades, rocket launchers and AK47s.

May

2 – Pink Floyd‘s Another Brick in the Wall is banned because the government fears that it might be used as a song of liberty by black school children.

June

1 – Bombs explode at Sasol One and Two and Natref Eight at Sasolburg and Secunda, with no injuries and RM58 damage. The attack was organised by Solomon Mahlangu of the Umkhonto weSizwe Special Operations.

August

Special Branch policeman Detective-Sergeant T.G. Zondi is shot at in Sobantu Village.

October

14 – The Soweto community calls for a stayaway to protest against rent increases.

November

21 – A terrorist is killed in Chiawelo and a child is injured by police in the process.

African Myths Part 3

African Myths

Anansi

The exploits of Anansi, West Africa’s great trickster-god, are described in hundreds of folktales. Usually in the form of a spider, his stories mainly deal with his attempts at fooling humans into stealing or doing something immoral that would benefit him in some way. These attempts normally fail miserably, teaching the listeners various life lessons. One tale tells of his attempt to hoard the entire world’s wisdom into a pot for himself. When he succeeded, he attempted to hide the pot at the top of a tree where nobody could find it. He tied the pot in front of him and tried to climb the tree, but progress was slow as he kept sliding and losing his grip. His son, who had followed him, finally asked him why he didn’t tie the pot to his back so that he could climb more easily. As he realized his son’s ingenuity, the pot slipped and fell to the ground. The wisdom fell out and a sudden rainstorm washed it into the river and from there to the waters of the ocean, so that everyone in the world now owns a little bit of it.

Africa

The Magic Of The Lovedu Rain Queens

To the Lovedu people of Mpumalanga, South Africa, the Rain Queen is a fundamental part of their culture and history. Called Mudjadji, the queen is said to be a living incarnation of the rain goddess. As she is the embodiment of rain, even her state of mind is said to influence the weather. The Mudjadji is also believed to be able to send storms to destroy the Lovedu’s enemies or gentle rain to nurture their friends. Every year, the Rain Queen’s powers are displayed at the Ga-Modjadji settlement during the rainmaking ceremony. The queens are all expected to commit suicide by poison at the age of 60. On that day, all of the queen’s rainmaking ingredients, prized objects, and incantations kept secret throughout her reign are passed on to her successor.

African Sky Stock

The Mysterious Queen Of Sheba

We know of the Queen of Sheba from various sources, including the Bible and the Qur’an. Whether she was a queen regent or a queen consort, we do not know. Her full name isn’t ever mentioned, but most scholars believe her kingdom may have been in the region of Ethiopia. The royal family of Ethiopia claims to be direct descendants of the child born to the queen and King Solomon. In their legends, the queen is named Makeda.

According to the Kebra Negast, the story goes that the king invited Makeda to a ceremonial feast where spicy food was deliberately served. Because she was staying the night, the queen asked Solomon to swear he wouldn’t force himself on her. He said he wouldn’t take anything from her if she didn’t take anything from him. Unfortunately, she got thirsty during the night, woke up, and reached for some water that was placed close to her bed. The king appeared, reminding her of her promise, as water was the most esteemed of all earthly possessions. The queen took the water and drank it, so setting the king free of his promise.

Thank you Barnard Gerber at ListVerse for these brilliant myths!

Our Favourite Tweets! #Spreadthelove

African Myths Part 1

This is a trailer of Joe Bullet – a film lost in the 70’s but now found + digitally remastered by the Waterfront Film Studios. f you watch the trailer, you will see a great amount of landscape shots. Our landscape lends itself to beautiful cinematography!

Did You Know?

There are many myths + legends surrounding the African landscape?

Mythology can refer to the collected myths of a group of people—their body of stories which they tell to explain nature, history, and customs—or to the study of such myths.

Here are a few:

Africa Stock Photo

Adu Ogyinae

According to Akan mythology, all humans lived deep within the earth. One day, seven men, five women, a leopard, and a dog crawled out of a hole made by a massive worm. Looking around them, the astonished people became terrified, but Adu Ogyinae—the first man on the surface—seemed to understand the world and its wonders. He calmed them and gave them strength by laying his hands on them. Adu Ogyinae also took charge and grouped the people into work teams. He coordinated the building of their first shelters until a tree he was chopping down fell on and killed him.

Africa Stock Photo

Kaang

The Bushmen, also called the Khoi or San, are the nomads of Africa. In the last few decades, many have become farmers due to the dangers that our modern life poses to their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, but their territory once stretched from the Cape to Kenya. The Bushmen are experts at finding water, and their advice is often sought out due to their precognitive dreams and divining capabilities.

According to their beliefs, the supreme god Kaang created the world but sent death and destruction after experiencing too much disobedience and antagonism. Even though he lives in the sky, his invisible spirit still resides in all living things. In one story Kaang’s wife gave birth to an eland (African antelope). The god nurtured the calf but it was mistakenly killed by his two sons. Kaang demanded that the eland’s blood be boiled. The subsequent fatty residue was scattered across the landscape, in turn becoming other antelope and animals. In this manner, Kaang provided the meat that his people hunt, kill, and eat to this day.

Africa Stock Photo

The Biloko

The Biloko are diabolical dwarf-like entities believed to roam the nethermost regions of the rainforest in central Zaire. According to the legends, these beings are restless ancestor spirits who still harbor resentment toward the living. They zealously guard the forest and its living creatures from the hollow trees in which they hide. Women lose consciousness at the sight of them and only the most daring hunters enter these forests and survive. Apart from their hideous appearance—no hair, long sharp claws, and sharp-toothed mouths that can open wide enough to swallow a human being whole—they also have a tendency to bewitch and eat all those who come under their spell.

Come Back Next Week for Part 2 (more awesome myths)

Awesome Shots From Around South Africa!

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We live in a country rich with beauty + vibrant with culture. Our people are from all walks of life + they are the ones our films are for. We’re restoring vintage films from the 70’s + 80’s. The films were a way of escape during the harsh Apartheid years. Our current blog series – “What Was Happening When” – delves more into what was going on in the country during the years the films were made. You can clearly see the contrast between reality + escapism. These movies were a way to show a lighter side of life for viewers. Now, thanks to Gravel Road, we are bringing them back to the public. We have showed at some of the biggest film festivals in the world, including The Berlin Film Festival, The Carthage Film Festival, The Lumiere Film Festival, as well as at museums such as New York’s world-famous MoMA. We have also been at art screenings around South Africa, on South Africa’s Broadcasting Network (SABC) + on CNBC Africa. We have been written about in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Filmmaker Africa + more publications. People are sitting up + paying attention. Read more on our journeys around the world here on our blog: the category drop down menu on the right sidebar is easy to use. Subscribe to our newsletter by signing up to follow the blog. You will receive exclusive content such as news about specials, film screenings, DVD releases + behind-the-scenes photos of our team at work in our studios at Cape Town’s Waterfront. In the meantime, enjoy some photos from around South Africa, sourced from Pinterest + Google. Follow our story on Facebook here.

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What Was Happening When

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1987 – Ezintandaneni 

+ 1 Jan  South African Defence Force servicemen are attacked in Alexandra, Johannesburg and at least one is injured

+ 9 Jan Police raid English-language newspapers, seizing documents related to an advertisement calling for the legalising of the African National Congress

+ 2 Feb The single quarters of the Bokomo Police Station is attacked twice with grenades and one policeman is injured

+ 18 Feb A number of people are killed in a grenade attack on Tladi Secondary School

+ 12 March  Sweden announces a total boycott on trade with South Africa, effective from October

+ 20 July  A car bomb explodes outside a block of flats in District Six, Cape Town, with no injuries

+ 30 July A car bomb explodes outside the Witwatersrand Command and kills one soldier and injures 68 people

+ 3 August 23 conscripts publicly announce in Cape Town that they refuse to serve in the SADF

+ 23 August A shop in Emdeni, frequented by soldiers, is attacked with grenades

+ 28 November South African Airways Flight 295 crashes into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius due to a fire in the cargo hold, killing 159 passengers and crew

+ 10 December During a police raid on a shack in the Port Elizabeth area, they meet heavy resistance from the residents. The police drive a Casspir over the shack, killing four

A Short (Cool) History of South African Cinema

African Cinema

+ During the 1910s and 1920s, many South African films were made in or around Durban. These films often made use of the dramatic scenery available in rural KwaZulu-Natal, particularly the Drakensberg region.

+ KwaZulu-Natal was also served as the appropriate location for historical films such as De Voortrekkers (1916) and The Symbol of Sacrifice (1918)

African Cinema

Sarie Marais, the first Afrikaans-language sound film, was released in 1931. Subsequent sound releases such as Die Wildsboudjie(1948), a 1949 Sarie Marais remake, and Daar doer in die bosveld (1950) continued to cater primarily to white, Afrikaans-speaking audiences.

+ The 1950s saw an increased use of South African locations and talent by international filmmakers. British co-productions like Coast of Skeletons (1956) and American co-productions like The Cape Town Affair (1957) reflected the a growing trend of shooting in real locations, rather than using backlots.

African Cinema

Our Best Posts of 2014

Our Best Posts Roundup

Over the past 12 months we’ve used ourselves as guinea pigs in a new realm. We’ve worked to see whether it’s the old or new films from South African history which inspire you, we’ve learned how to debut our films abroad, and we’ve found better ways to work, write and create.

The process has been enlightening, productive and ultimately just a lot of fun.

With the new year now in full swing, we’ve put away our holiday overindulgences to take time to reflect on some of our favourite (and most popular) articles of 2014:

Framegrabs of “Trompie”

Silwerskerm Film Festival

Isiboshwa

Interview with Tonie Van Der Merwe

On CNBC

Uthemba

Uthemba South African Cinema
KEY CREW & CAST
Director Rudi Mayer Cast Lucas Tsiane
Producer Rudi Mayer Muntu Ndebele
Writer Rudi Mayer Aaron Mbuli
DOP Rudi Mayer Danney Maphalala
Editor N/A Anton Sibanda
Sound Frank Muller Jerry Ndabukelwayo
Y.O.P 1980’s Patrick Ntuli
Running Time 93 min Josef Mualefe
Language isiZulu Mandy Kunene
Genre Crime / Drama Patricia Mothibedi
SYNOPSIS

Themba is released from serving two years in prison for his best friend, Vusi. Upon his release, he discovers that Vusi, the car thief, has been sleeping with his girlfriend, Thandi. Themba decides to change his fate and become a snitch – helping the police put an end to Vusi’s on-going crime spree. Vusi has Thandi executed, blaming her for his current misfortunes. Themba moves the final chess piece into place, resulting in Vusi’s ultimate demise and capture.

Uthemba South African Cinema

Uthemba South African Cinema

Mandla

Mandla South African Cinema

KEY CREW & CAST
Director Tonie Van Der Merwe Cast Hector Mathanda
Producer Mary-Ann Spangenberg Innocent “Popo” Gumede
Writer Ilza Oosthuizen Kay Magubane
DOP Tony Cunningham Dumi Shongwe
Editor N/A Cleopatra Nyide
Sound Philip Kershaw Mandla Ngcoya
Y.O.P 1980’s Phumlani Phewa
Running Time 69 min
Language isiZulu
Genre Comedy
SYNOPSIS

When two dim-witted thieves escape from prison and ransack Mandla’s house, the young boy’s parents believe he and his friend are to blame. Determined to prove their innocence, Mandla and his pal set off in search of the true culprits.

After a few close calls and a daring escape, Mandla and his friend manage to capture the escaped convicts.

Mandla South African Cinema

Mandla South African Cinema