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On 21 March 2012 a new book about South African film history, South African Cinema 1896-2010 was published by Intellect
Launched at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town. Scriptwriter Clarien Luttig interviewed the author Martin Botha.

To find out more about Martin Botha and his seminal South African Cinema 1896-2010 please visit the book's webpage

Here is an extract from the interview, which can be read in full on Martin's blog.

Clarien: 113 years of a country’s cinema history is a rather impressive subject to examine, especially when it’s as tumultuous as the South African one. From early newsreels to post-apartheid’s cinema of marginality, with the so-called “Hollyveldt” era, the embarrassment of the B Scheme films, subversive screenplays that managed to slip their oppositional themes past the censorship boards, a range of visionary filmmakers and much more in-between… What inspired and motivated you to tackle such a task?

Martin: The aim was to provide correct (verified) historical information about key players in our film industry to film researchers, academics, film industry professionals and the general public. The aesthetic achievements of great cinematographers and directors have been celebrated by the inclusion of images from almost numerous films. The manuscript started as a historical dictionary, but eventually I decided to present the various entries on the film industry as an integrated chronological narrative of South African cinema from 1896 till 2010. This monograph is an attempt to describe, contextualise and analyse the aesthetic highlights of South African cinema from 1896 till 2010 by focusing on the use of film form, style and genre against the complex socio-political background of the past 113 years.  The book is the culmination of 30 years of personal research into South African cinema and builds on my previous books, namely Images of South Africa: the rise of the alternative film (1992), Movies Moguls Mavericks: South African cinema: 1979-1991 (1992), Kronieken van Zuid-Afrika: de films van Manie van Rensburg (1997), Jans Rautenbach: Dromer, baanbreker en auteur (2006) as well as Marginal Lives and Painful Pasts: South African cinema after apartheid (2007). I have tried not to use the type of academic style, which would alienate film industry professionals and the general public. The monograph is also an attempt to move beyond the type of ideological analysis, which dominated South African film studies for the past few decades.   Although producing significant studies on the representation of class and/or race in South African cinema scholars such as Keyan Tomaselli (1989), Peter Davis (1996), Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela (2003), as well as Jacqueline Maingard (2007) were also more occupied with the social, cultural, economic and political history of South African cinema before and during the apartheid years than artistic processes. As a result the artistic achievements of film directors, cinematographers, actors, art directors, composers, editors and other members of the production teams received little scholarly attention. Recent attempts to rework the history of South African cinema such as Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela’s edited volume, To Change Reels: Film and Film Culture in South Africa (2003), as well as Jacqueline Maingard’s South African National Cinema (2007) devoted entire chapters to the ideological analysis of films such as De Voortrekkers (1916), Cry, the Beloved Country (1951) and Come Back, Africa (1959), but in the process ignored the significant oeuvres of directors such as Ross Devenish, Manie van Rensburg, Jans Rautenbach, Katinka Heyns, Darrell Roodt, as well as many of the directors of the 1980s.

Posted by James Campbell at 13:54 (0) comments
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