Egg Films’ new “made in China’ director


Egg Films has signed Johannesburg-based director Lebogang Rasethaba after
he recently returned to South Africa after completing his four-year master’s
degree in filmmaking at Beijing Normal University in China.

Rasethaba wanted to study in China as he felt Europe or New York felt a little
obsolete and generic.

He says: “I think Europe and America are old world orders, they gave birth to
the most prominent ideologies and prejudices to which we adhere, they set all
the rules, everything from religion, to gender, to race to ideas around beauty.

“China is an underdog in history because they were kind of marginalised,’
Rasethaba continues. “Almost 30 years without contact with the outside world?
That’s insane. And now they are emerging as this super power with a whole
new set of rules on culture, modern living, trade relations and what not. They
just have a lot more to offer regarding perspective of how things are going to
play out in the future.’

When he arrived in China he couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin, but is now
fluent in the language. “It was like being a baby again, but with high levels of
consciousness. But it got easy after a while.’

Rasethaba comments that any society that has such a strong hegemonic
national identity means that the subcultures are a lot more aggressive. “So
music, skateboarding, independent cinema, subversive messaging in art and all
that kind of stuff really jump out at you as new and naive but really exciting.

“And because of the censorship, the people in China who are interested in
these worlds really go out of their way to source references. It’s not as fleeting
and fickle as it is here.’

However, he adds that on the flipside, the film industry in China is relatively old
and established. “But it’s always been an extension of the Communist party;
lots and lots of propaganda. Every single detail or piece of information has to fit
in and edify the agenda of the party.’

Even in his student films, he couldn’t make movies that cast the Chinese in a
negative light. “I was there on a scholarship and my mentor made a point to
remind me at the beginning of every semester that the school was still happy
with me and they were going to extend my scholarship.

“That kind of stuff teaches you how to make your point without having to
overstate opinions in a heavy-handed way. You learn how to think carefully
about how you represent people. People are so used to showing an image of
someone in media and that process is usually unchecked. Think about portrayals
of women or black men in media, it feels totally unchecked,’ he concludes.

Rasethaba is currently busy with the final spot for Adidas, a commercial for Ster-
Kinekor for their Cine Prestige cinema and a commercial for Live Magazine.


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