Cape Town based filmmaker Simon Wood’s award-winning documentary, Forerunners, has been selected for screening at the Montreal International Black Film Festival this month and for the United Nations Association Film Festival in San Francisco in October.
These screenings follow the film’s success at the Cannes International Pan African Film Festival earlier this year where it received a prestigious jury award. The documentary, which charts the lives of four middle-class black South Africans, received the coveted Dikalo trophy and was one of only two films that received awards for excellence at the annual festival in Cannes.
Pan African film festival jury member Sofi Delaage said that while the rest of the world knew a lot about both the poverty-stricken and the very rich in South Africa, not much was known about the middle class. “Forerunners gives you hope that it’s possible to create a new society,’ she wrote in her critique of the film.
Recognition from the United Nations and Montreal film festivals is a further feather in the caps of Cape Town director Simon Wood and UCT’s Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing – the documentary’s producer.
The concept for the film originated from a research project by the UCT Unilever Institute which explored South Africa’s burgeoning black middle class. Interviews with a number of research respondents revealed a more complex relationship between traditional values and consumer behaviour, as well as some compelling stories about how ordinary South Africans were negotiating societal transformation.
Director of the UCT Unilever Institute, Emeritus Professor John Simpson, said he was delighted that Forerunners was receiving acclaim internationally. “It is one of only 70 films selected for the United Nations Association Film Festival from 600 submissions from all over the world. This speaks to both the quality of its production and the power of its narrative,’ he said. “It was also extremely well-received locally when it was screened at the Encounters Documentary Film Festival in June and at the Durban International Film Festival in July.’
Forerunners will be shown at the Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF) from September 21 until October 2, 2011 and then at the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF) in San Francisco from October 21 to 30, 2011.
The MIBFF aims to encourage the making of films that focus on the realities of black people from around the world; while the UNAFF celebrates the power of film in conveying issues associated with human rights.
Films from the UNAFF are also screened in major centres throughout the United States and in selected cities across the world in the UNAFF’s Traveling Film Festival.
Simpson said it was exciting that Forerunners would be seen extensively in America as well as elsewhere in the world. “The UNAFF’s Traveling Film Festival will enable audiences from across the United States and the rest of the world to deepen their understanding of South Africa and its people,’ he said.