After ten successful years, the Vancouver South African Film Festival (VSAFF) returns in a new format. Due to COVID-19 and to constraints around in-person gatherings, VSAFF has partnered with the Toronto South African Film Festival in 2020 to host one online event that spans across Canada.
The renamed South African Film Festival runs Nov. 1–12, and features a range of exceptional films showcasing various aspects of South Africa’s culture, history and politics. All ticket sales go towards supporting Education Without Borders, a charitable foundation that provides after-school programs in underprivileged areas in South Africa, and also supports Indigenous programs in Canada.
One of the headliners of the festival is Good Hope, a documentary directed by British filmmaker Anthony Fabian that aims to create a new South African narrative.
The roots of Good Hope
Good Hope is Fabian’s third film set in South Africa over the past 20 years, a process through which he has forged a close relationship with the country. The film was born out of a disconnect between how people spoke about the country and his experiences while there.
“I wanted to explore why the narrative of the country was doom and gloom when I felt that there was a lot that was happening that was very impressive and that gave me great reason to be hopeful and optimistic about the future,” Fabian says.
The filmmaker noticed people born after apartheid or who entered their working lives after this period tended to be more positive about the country’s future. He was impressed with the younger generation, who he saw taking action to tackle the country’s problems. Consequently, Good Hope features 36 individuals in diverse sectors of South African society who are working to make a difference.
“My hope was to rebalance the narrative to one that I think was more realistic than the entirely pessimistic one that tended to be put forward,” Fabian emphasizes.
Reconfiguring the Rainbow Nation
Fabian sees South Africa as a microcosm of what is happening around the world, and a place that is also further ahead in dealing with issues of racial inequity. He highlights South Africa’s position as the most unequal society in the world, with most of the wealth held by a small percentage of the population, and the need to
“Within South Africa, there is the possibility of people from different cultures to reach a greater understanding and to coexist in a way that the whole world needs to pay attention to,” Fabian believes.
Education is a crucial factor in creating such a change. The integration the filmmaker witnessed in local high schools, where youth of diverse backgrounds are growing up together and therefore immersed in intercultural exchange, fills him with hope for the
Inspiring future leaders
Fabian acknowledges the enormous scale of the task ahead of South Africa, and the impossibility of trying to address all of the issues at once.
“‘You can only solve it one heart at a time,’” he says, sharing advice from one of the film’s participants.
He believes if every person makes an effort to solve the issues within their own communities, that will have a ripple effect across society.
“It’s about personal responsibility, everybody playing their part in making a change,” Fabian says.
He hopes the film helps to generate support for the participants working so hard to create change, and also inspires other South Africans to shift away from focusing on the problems to trying to find the solutions, and in so doing, create their own “good hope stories.” His heartfelt desire is for the film to find its way into the education system, which could create widespread impact in inspiring the youth of tomorrow about the possibilities they can create in spite of the obstacles.
For more information on the South African Film Festival, and how to access Good Hope and other films, please visit www.vsaff.org