Strike a Rock, the ground-breaking feature that follows the stories of a group of often forgotten women fighting for justice after the massacre at Marikana has won the Audience Award for best local film at this years Encounters South African International Documentary Festival which ended on 11 June 2017. The film is directed by young up-and-coming Johannesburg director Aliki Saragas.
The loss of brothers, husbands, fathers and friends at the hands of the South African police in August 2012 shattered not only their hope of a living wage but brought about a brutal realisation that the ANC “murdered its own people’.
Leader of Marikana’s Wonderkop community and recently elected EFF member of parliament, Primrose Sonti together with her ally and best friend, Thumeka Magwanquana’s shared struggle for social justice, say nothing has changed in the community since before the strike and massacre.
Sonti and Magwanquana unite the women and organise the delivery of a petition to Lonmin to register their demands.
Since then, Sonti has moved to Cape Town and is pictured in parliament fighting for justice while wearing a red domestic workers’ uniform and gum boots, as she represents the forgotten voices of Marikana – the women whom she left behind.
Despite their attempts to engage, Lonmin did not listen to the women of Marikana’s demands for decent homes, running water and basic healthcare. By 2012 Lonmin was supposed to have built 5 500 homes under its 2006 Social and Labour Plan, but instead only built three showhouses.
The women believe that the state’s indifference to their plight and its lack of leadership in bringing about any meaningful socio-economic transformation since the massacre has led to militant activism with strong local women at the forefront – united as the social justice advocacy group, Sikhale Sonke. Now the women hope that their united voices will at last be heard all the way from the koppies of Marikana across South Africa and beyond.
Strike a Rock won the Encounters Audience Awards for Best South African Film, while the film The Eagle Huntress was named the Best International Film.
Encounters ran from 1 to 11 June 2017 in two cities – Cape Town and Johannesburg. The line-up consisted of over 70 films plus special events for film lovers and filmmakers which ran throughout the Festival, these included Virtual Encounters – a virtual reality and interactive documentary exhibition curated by Electric South’s Ingrid Kopp, the Swiss Focus, American Film Showcase, Al Jazeera Pitching Forum, workshops and master classes.
This year’s festival proved that there’s an audience hungry for quality documentary films,’ says festival director Darryl Els. “We saw strong audience responses to a wide variety of films, including Strike a Rock, The Eagle Huntress, The Fall, Deep Blue Middle C, Whose Streets, Winnie, Dragans’s Lair, Last Men in Aleppo, I Am Not Your Negro and Goldblatt.
Wesgro Film and Media was a partner in Encounters’ extensive industry programme of master classes and business to business events. Yaw Peprah, the chief business officer says: “It is great to see emerging and established industry use this platform’s extensive opportunities to grow their global footprint.” He continues: “the selection of films was first class.”
Wesgro’s head of Film and Media Promotion, Monica Rorvik also shares: “It was great to take part in the extensive industry programme, and hear great exchanges throughout the pitches and master class panel sessions which should support the growth of projects and companies.”