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    Posted April 14, 2011 by
    Cape Town, South Africa
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your photos from 'Inside Africa'

    The Creators documentary reveals South Africa's artistic subcultures


    The Creators, a documentary scheduled for release in June by Daydream Reels, explores modern South African subcultures through the eyes of the artists who are sculpting a new future for the fragmented country.  Watch more scenes and order the film at www.thecreatorsdocumentary.com.  Over 75% of net proceeds go to the artists portrayed in the documentary and the South African crew who made the film.


    The story begins in the mind of Cashril Plus, a twelve-year-old animator and son of graffiti artist Faith47.  Through Cashril's eyes, we see his mother paint in the streets and forgotten townships haloing Cape Town.


    We soon enter the townships with Ongx, an afro-blues artist and the first place winner of a national music competition with Africa's largest music production company.  When Ongx realizes that his award will not turn out as expected, he is forced to play music in the streets and wash dishes in order to make ends meet.  In a country where nearly one in four people is unemployed, Ongx lives within a devastating framework for creative possibility.  While Ongx's consciously sings in his first language, Xhosa, the township around him turns increasingly towards English-language pop music.  Demonstrating pride in traditional African culture, Ongx himself is a microcosm representing the schism between his people’s roots and an increasingly westernized media landscape.


    Ongx's perspective transitions to that of Mthetho, an AIDS orphan who grew up mimicking the opera CD his father left behind.  Now a twenty-three year old opera legend, Mthetho uses the form to escape from the multiple stabbings, burnings and gang wars he endured during his youth.  With a knife scar stretching the length of his cheek, Mthetho is pulling himself out of the cycle of gang life, using music to elevate his mind and support his family.


    We transition into the world of Emile, an MC and bboy from the seminal hip hop group Black Noise.  Known as the "Godfather of South African hip hop," Emile participated in anti-apartheid protests and school boycotts during his youth, uniting a generation of youth aruond hip hop before the fall of apartheid.  The issues now facing “free South Africa” are numerous and subversive, requiring bboy (breakdancing) workshops, Africa-wide bboy competitions, and "conscious rhymes for unconscious times."


    From Emile, we meet Sweat.X, a radical black/white electro duo from Soweto and Pretoria.  - arguably the poorest and richest areas of South Africa, respectively.  Sweat.x exemplifies the growing population of South Africa that is tired of stale, on-the-sleeve activism.  Their music leaves the didactic lectures in the past, forging the current, or perhaps futuristic, South Africa partying as one.  Sweat.X tours throughout rural South Africa, ironically embracing colonial remnants while emphasizing the dichotomy between the rich and poor living side by side in each town/township duo.  Using pump up/get down music to connect with the impoverished communities of South Africa’s Karoo, Sweat.X takes reunification into their own hands, leaving overt political protest in the past in favor of a new medium for a new age.


    The entrance of poet and singer Janine takes us into Mitchell's Plain, one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods.  The younger sister of Mr. Devious, a hip hop activist killed amidst gang warfare, Janine's life is imbued with the struggle between a violent environment and a peaceful core.  As a spoken word artist and performer known as Blaq Pearl, Janine works in a prison teaching creative writing to inmates.  Her brother's killer now walks free on the streets just minutes from Janine’s family home.  Her poetry expresses a situation that too many women can relate to in a country with some of the world’s highest reported incidences of rape and murder.


    The artists featured in The Creators sculpt South Africa's future through their art, using fragments of a tumultuous past.  By entering this chaotic socio-political reality through the lives of six struggling individuals, the documentary bypasses the abrasive world of politics and puts a macro lens on the real-life effects of apartheid on South Africans' lives and creations, years after its demise.  Humorous, disturbing, and empowering messages seep between the cracks of a calcified society as each artist crafts a different history in his or her own artistic language.  The film culminates in an intertwined narrative that emphasizes the shared reality of all South Africans, despite the segregation which remains long after apartheid's demise.


    Watch scenes from The Creators at http://thecreatorsdocumentary.com/

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