The acclaimed documentary feature Freedom Square and Back of the Moon directed by Academy Award nominee Angus Gibson and celebrated artist and filmmaker, William Kentridge will be screened at the world-renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland on 30 June 2019. Film producer, Anant Singh facilitated the participation of the film in Montreux’s film series programme held at the Cinéma Hollywood theatre, where he will introduce the film on 30 June.
Freedom Square and Back of the Moon focuses on Sophiatown the closest place to the city centre of Johannesburg, occupied by black South Africans. It was home to writers, journalists, artists, politicians – the black intellectual heart of the city. It is not surprising then that it was the first area to be targeted by the Nationalist Government for removals. In this documentary, Angus Gibson and William Kentridge, use interviews, archive material, drawings and extracts from the protest play ‘Sophiatown’, to explore the life and destruction of Sophiatown.
Anant Singh said, “Angus and William created an amazing film that captures the spirit of Sophiatown – the vibrance of the community, the American-inspired fashion, all revolving around jazz in clubs like Back of the Moon which was frequented by Madiba and his friends. When I watched the film recently, I thought it is a perfect fit for the Montreux Jazz Festival as jazz was such an important part of life in Sophiatown.”
Angus Gibson commented, “Freedom Square and Back of the Moon is as relevant today in our society, as it was when William and I made it. The memory of Sophiatown is documented for posterity through our film and the jazz music that was loved by its people. We are grateful to Anant for identifying the Montreux Jazz Festival as a platform for our film, and we are delighted to be sharing this unique South African experience with the Montreux audience.”
Sophiatown was established in 1900 and since its earliest days it was a multi-cultural melting pot of families with different racial and cultural backgrounds. Sophiatown enjoyed its freedom as a racially integrated area. ‘Swinging Sophiatown’ was known for its rich jazz music scene and was an intellectual, artistic and political hub for those opposed to apartheid, until its destruction by the Apartheid Government from 1955 to 1959. Angus Gibson and William Kentridge capture this essence of Sophiatown in Freedom Square and Back of the Moon.
An exhibition of the work of co-director, William Kentridge entitled ‘William Kentridge: A Poem That Is Not Our Own’, opened at the Kunstmuseum in Basel, Switzerland on Saturday and will run through to 13 October 2019. The exhibition which features Kentridge’s extensive body of work, also includes an entire room of stage decors designed for the 1986 musical, Sophiatown.