Award-winning films, poetry, music and book talks at the Maritzburg Social Justice Film and Arts Festival


AWARD-winning documentary film-maker, Rehad Desai (Miners Shot Down) will be in the city to attend the screening of his latest film, Giant is Falling, as part of the Maritzburg Social Justice Film and Arts Festival, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.

Co-directed by Jabulani Mzozo, the film takes a sweeping look at the political events of recent years that signal the end of an era in South Africa.

With the real possibility of losing the comfortable majority the ANC has enjoyed for two decades, the big debate in South Africa is whether or not the party can recover its reputation as the most respected liberation movement in the world.

Giant is Falling charts the various ways people have collectively responded to the ANC’s failure to deliver on its promises, providing an unflinching look at the festering sore of inequality that makes the current situation untenable. It also asks: ‘When the status quo breaks, what will replace it?’

The film will be screened in the Colin Webb Auditorium on the main campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, off King Edward Road, at 6.30 pm on Thursday, October 12. Afterwards film-goers will be able to participate in a discussion with Desai.

Giant is Falling can also be seen on Saturday, October 14 at 1 pm in the Leeb Du Toit Council Chamber and at 2.30 pm in the university’s DSLT, which are next to the Colin Webb Auditorium.


Rehad Desai

The festival continues on Friday, October 13 with a chance for book lovers to meet and listen to Tracy Ledger, author of An Empty Plate (Jacana) in the Colin Webb Auditorium.

In her book, Ledger, a South African researcher in the field of economic development, asks why food prices in South Africa are so high that millions of families go hungry.
She also questions why the prices paid to farmers for that same food are so low that many cannot stay in business.

An Empty Plate demonstrates how the South Africa agri-system is perpetuating poverty, threatening land reform, entrenching inequality and tearing apart our social fabric. It also asks two crucial questions: How did we get to this point? And how can we go about solving the problem?

From 7 pm to 9 pm on Friday, October 13, the Colin Webb Auditorium will be hosting a Comedy and Poetry evening, featuring Pietermaritzburg-born comedian, Justice Kubheka.

After moving to Durban, he started doing stand-up comedy in 2006, appearing in 100% Zulu Comedy and alongside comedians like David Kau, Loyiso Gola, John Vlismas, Sya B, the late “Sdumo” Joe Mafela and Celeste Ntuli.

Performing their poetry at the showcase evening will be Ntwenhle “Smooth” Majozi, who prides herself in bringing change to our current society through art; Kwazi Ndlangisa, a multi-award-winning performance poet, actor, Nguni folk musician and activist, based in Durban; Luleka Mhlanzi, a performance poet, actress and creative writer from Imbali; Kiiri, a lyrical poet from Ulundi; and Africa Dlamini, a slam/spoken word poet from Howick, whose writing explores political landscapes, historical narrative and social commentary.


An Empty Plate

The programme for Saturday, October 14 will get underway at 10.30 am with a feast for film fans. Among the movies being screened are:

Free Education – The Story of Bongikosi Khanyile, which is narrated by Bonginkosi Khanyile and directed by Michael Van Niekerk.
This 40-minute documentary explores student activism within the #FeesMustFall context, and more specifically through the story of Khanyile, a student from the Durban University of Technology in Durban who was incarcerated for 156 days.
The alleged political motivation and unjust use of state power surrounding his incarceration led to an international call for his release and the dropping of all charges against him.
Presented within the context of the broader story of present day student activism in South Africa, the film entertwines both human and political narratives intends to tell a story of revolution.

Strike A Rock, directed by Aliki Saragas, follows two women activists, Primrose Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana, who take on Lonmin Plc, the platinum company at the heart of the Marikana Massacre of 2012, when 37 striking mineworkers
were killed by police. The film won the audience award for the best South African documentary at the Encounters Film Festival in 2017.

Insignificant Man, directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, which follows Arvind Kejriwal and his Common Man’s Party — an insurgent new political party in India — as they tackle issues like water, electricity, and accusations of graft against the country’s oldest and most powerful two political establishments.

Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis. Told by the activists and leaders from the movement for justice, Whose Streets?, this film takes an unflinching look at the Ferguson uprising which followed the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by police in St. Louis, Missouri.

On the afternoon of Saturday, October 14 there will be a discussion forum on the #FeesMustFall debate and a screening of Free Education – The Story of Bongikosi Khanyile in the Leeb Du Toit Council Chamber from 2.30 pm to 4 pm.

Other screenings will take place in the DSLT, Leeb Du Toit Council Chamber and OMB Room 24.


Inside Apartheid’s Prison

Raymond Suttner will be speaking about his new book, Inside Apartheid’s Prison (Jacana), at 4.30 pm on Saturday, October 14 in the Colin Webb Hall.

Suttner, an academic, is one of a small group of white South Africans who was imprisoned for his efforts to overthrow the apartheid regime.

First arrested in 1975, he was tortured with electric shocks because he refused to supply information to the police. He then served eight years because of his underground activities for the African National Congress and South African Communist Party.

This book describes his experience of prison in a low-key, unromantic voice, providing the texture of prison life, but unlike most ‘struggle memoirs’ it is also intensely personal.

The Maritzburg Social Justice Film and Arts Festival will close with a Jazz Concert in the Colin Webb Hall from 7 pm.

Performers include: Pietermaritzburg pianist, Corry Shabalala, who has worked with Abdullah Ibrahim, Bheki Mseleku and Stimel; Lajire Abayomi Olubasayo (aka Yommy), who was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and is the resident saxophonist at the Golden Horse Casino in Scottsville; and Themba Mokoena, a guitarist who has performed with everyone from Sobantu Strangers and Black Magic to Jacob ‘Mpharanyana’ Radebe and Sibongile Khumalo.

This is the eighth year which the Pietermaritzburg Agency for Community Social Action (PACSA) has hosted the festival in Pietermaritzburg.

• For more information go to or phone 033 342 0052.


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