It’s been an interesting year for film. Streaming services saw us through most of lockdown, annual film festivals went online, and a great deal of physical performances made the leap into the realm of film. From documentaries and virtual theatre productions, to feature-length films made without a crew or major budget, here are a few of the Creative Feel team’s favourite films, documentaries, performances, and biopics from 2020.
Part of the 2020 European Film Festival, which also made the transition to an online-only format this year, The 8th is a documentary that explores how grassroots activism can play a vital role in engineering change and shifting perceptions. Directed by Aideen Kane, Lucy Kennedy, and Maeve O’Boyle, the 94-minute documentary tells the story of Irish women and their fight to overturn one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the world. Read our review of The 8th here.
Cabin Fever, is a completely crew-free, feature-length drama film directed by Tim Greene and created in collaboration with South African actors living in different parts of the world. The film was conceptualised and created during South Africa’s national lockdown and tells the story of a contemporary South African family making sense of life during the fraught and isolated conditions of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Watch our interview with Greene here.
I AM WOMAN
An engaging new biopic, I AM WOMAN tells the story of singer Helen Reddy, and takes its name from her song that became a 1970s feminist anthem. The film tells of Reddy’s life – one of fearless ambition and passion, of a woman who smashed through the patriarchal norms of her time to become the international superstar she always dreamed she’d be. I AM WOMAN is available in South Africa from Tuesday, 15 December 2020 on DStv’s BoxOffice. Watch the trailer below.
An example of a theatre production that embraced the virtual and filmic realm during South Africa’s national lockdown, Igama? is the award-winning play by Slindile Mthembu. This year, Igama? was translated into filmed format for the 2020 Virtual National Arts Festival and saw the play exploring the complexities of black womanhood in the post-colonial world by collapsing habitual, chronological, and often one-dimensional narrative structures depicting black women and their lives. The filmed version of the play has subsequently been screened at the Bioscope Independent Cinema to sold out audiences, as well as reimagined as short-form film fragments.
Kingdoms of Fire, Ice & Fairy Tales
Presenter Bonné de Bod and film director Susan Scott (the duo behind STROOP – Journey Into The Rhino Horn War) will transport you to three of earth’s iconic wildernesses: Yellowstone National Park in America; the Black Forest in Germany; and the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. These are lands where waters boil, trees talk, and the skies light up as if they are on fire. Lands where bears and wolves rule, where the planet never forgets to remind us of its power.
Days of Cannibalism
A portrait of rural Lesotho and the expanding Chinese presence there, Days of Cannibalism is a documentary by filmmaker Teboho Edkins that tells a story of assimilation in an increasingly globalised world. The documentary screened as part of this year’s online Encounters Film Festival. Watch the trailer below.
Made in Italy
Made in Italy is set in glorious Tuscany and tells the story of the London artist Robert (Liam Neeson) who returns to Italy with his estranged son Jack (Micheál Richardson) to make a quick sale of the house they inherited from his late wife. Neither expects to find the once beautiful villa in such a state of disrepair. Made in Italy premiered in SA cinemas in October 2020.
Summerland follows the story of fiercely independent folklore investigator Alice (Gemma Arterton), who secludes herself in her clifftop study, debunking myths using science to disprove the existence of magic. Consumed by her work, but also profoundly lonely, she is haunted by a love affair from her past. Read more about Summerland here.
This film may have come out in 2018, but let it be said that 2020 was Knuckle City’s year. At the end of November, the locally-produced film about an ageing, womanising professional boxer and his career-criminal brother who take one last shot at success and get more than they’ve bargained for, was named the most nominated film at the 2020 Africa Movie Academy Awards where it was up for 12 awards. Knuckle City was also the most awarded film at this year’s SAFTAs, taking home six awards, and was this year’s Oscar entry for South Africa. Watch the film on Showmax.
RMB Starlight Classics 2020
The Creative Feel team looks forward to the RMB Starlight Classics every year, so we were more than happy to see that the much-anticipated evening of live orchestral performances of South African and International Music was going virtual in response to the pandemic. The virtual iteration of Starlight Classics sees Maestro Richard Cock conducting both the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and a series of behind-the-scenes interviews with performing musicians, all filmed at the Country Club Johannesburg, Auckland Park, the venue where Starlight Classics would have been presented in September 2020. Watch the full Starlight Classics here.