Jesus is a black woman

South African film makers take on Sundance and Venice

It’s been a big week for young South African film makers at the cutting edge of cinema.

In Utah in the US, the prestigious Sundance Film Festival revealed its line-up, with news that artist Kudzanai Chiurai has had his short, Iyeza, selected for the festival’s New Frontier showcase.

Chiurai, who was born in Zimbabwe but is now based in South Africa, said this week: “I was pretty stunned. My gallery didn’t even submit it. They called us.”

Winner of this year’s lucrative FNB Art Prize, Chiurai created Iyeza for his exhibition, State of the Nation. It depicts the Last Supper with a twist.

There is a black, female Jesus; thuggish disciples; and a scenario that references a muti murder. It plays out in extreme slow motion, set to the song Iyeza by Thandiswa Mazwai and rising star singer Zaki Ibrahim as Jesus.

Chiurai said: “The female Jesus is asking questions about authority and gender. In some ways, it is a feminist statement. This is an important century for women. The film is about how we deal with power.

“It points to contemporary African politics, and questions what is selfless sacrifice and what is selfish sacrifice for the sake of power.”

Iyeza was shown at the international Documenta exhibition, where one of its limited five copies was sold to the Puma collection, one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary art.

Now it will be showing four times at New Frontiers, “an electrifying celebration of innovation in filmmaking”, as

an example of how film can push boundaries.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the hugely important Venice Film Festival’s Biennale College has announced that young Cape Town film duo – director Jenna Bass and producer David Horler – has had their project, Room 0, selected for development out of 433 entries from 77 countries.

Bass and Horler are one of 15 teams selected by the college and will travel to Italy next month for workshops.

Three projects will be selected and funded to go into production for screening in Venice in August.

Room 0 is an experimental, mixed media film that breaks down barriers between the audience and the screen.

The duo has been gathering kudos all year.

Their supernatural thriller, Tok Tokkie, also goes into production next year.

While they are in Venice, Chiurai will be in Utah, answering questions after Iyeza’s screening.

“I really don’t know what to expect. It’s my first attempt at a film,” he said.

- City Press

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