Red Bull Amaphiko Film Festival couch session focuses on women in film


The Red Bull Amaphiko Film Festival took place on 27 to 29 October at various venues
in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. The festival, which was launched in October last year,
offers youth an opportunity to tell stories through their own lenses and introduces
new and different perspectives on storytelling.

The festival held informative couch sessions moderated by Nandi Dlepu. Dlepu is a
highly respected South African content producer, a true force to be reckoned with –
not only is she the co-founder of Bloom, a conversational platform for women in the
creative industry, she also produces content for the hugely respected Thackwell and
Whittaker, and edits Joho Moms, a parenting blog, and this is to name just a few.

Her initiatives have helped women in the creative industry to come together,
challenge, motivate and inspire each other through conversation.

“We’ve always had conversations about the power of film, but we really speak about
the responsibilities that come with that power. Film is a powerful tool for change, but
we need to start discussing how women are represented by the medium’ begins

It’s a typically frantic day in Braamfontein – with people covering the length and
breadth of the city and the sound of traffic hanging heavily in the air. Dlepu is
moderating a discussion on representation in film as part of the second Red Bull
Amaphiko Film Festival. Joining her on the couch is Lebogang Rasethaba (director of
People vs The Rainbow Nation), veteran actress Sibulele Gcilitshana and
filmmaker Chabi Setsubi. Here’s what went down:

Why is representation in film so important?

“Life begets art and art begets life,’ began Setsubi. “If you’re growing up as a woman,
there’s a certain reality you occupy in the world. Not seeing yourself in the movies you
watch makes you question your humanity.’

Gcilitshana echoed the point, mentioning how a drama she watched as a child inspired
her to be an actress. “It’s important to have strong, female leads in female. They
break the misconceptions people have about women.’

Breaking down stereotypes in film

Dlepu then went on to mention that while representation is key, it’s also important to
write nuanced, female characters instead of indulging stereotypes. “For example,
there’s this recurring stereotype you have that portrays women who have an almost
psychic ability to solve their ungrateful partner’s problems.’ An audience member then
brought up the issue of reality TV shows such as Love and Hip Hop and
Diski Divas, and how, in most in cases, the female relationships are usually
defined by cattiness and jealousy. “Most of the executives who produced those shows
are male. So, what you’re seeing is a portrayal of women dictated by the male

Fellow panel member, Chabi Setsubi, chipped in, mentioning that while reality TV
benefits from pitting women against each other, men get celebrated for the very same
behavior. “You look at a show like Running with The Reps, right? They did
exactly the same things you see on Diski Divas: they fought with each other,
got drunk and were in constant competition with each other. They were celebrated for
that, while the Diski Divas aren’t.’

Men shouldn’t hijack the conversation

Lebogang Rasethaba (who is currently working on a documentary called The
People Against Patriarchy
– spoke of the responsibility male filmmakers have to
ensure gender parity. He did, however caution against speaking for women instead of
with them. “You should question your intentions and ask yourself whether you might
be trivialising women’s issues with your work.’

– Written by Rofhiwa Maneta