Public Figure

Bonang Matheba in 'Public Figure'. (Poster supplied)
Bonang Matheba in 'Public Figure'. (Poster supplied)


A documentary that investigates the psychological effects of everyday social media use while exploring how our influencers deal with the fame, money, hate and obsession that comes with it.


After patiently waiting for a few months, we finally got to watch Bonang's very first film, and it was an eye-opener.

It was in January when Channel24 first got to have a chat with Bonang about her documentary, Public Figure, which she both starred in and co-produced.

"It's a documentary about the pros and cons of social media and the addiction, and how people have either started lives, jobs and new careers on social media, but also the negative impacts that social media has," she explained.

The film made its debut at the Manchester International Film Festival in March, and according to the TV personality, everybody "loved it."

And then it was South Africa's turn. An exclusive screening was held in Johannesburg where Bonang, as well as director Brian Corso and US Instagram star Sebastian Tribbie, was in attendance.

Something you should know about me – I love documentaries.

A good documentary, I find, is one that can inform, captivate, and most importantly, allow the audience to connect with the subject matter in some way. Public Figure ticked all those boxes.

While the movie starts off highlighting the glitz and glamour of being a social media star (it does so by delving into the lives of a few influencers from around the globe), it quickly takes a turn, focusing mainly on the scary reality of social media addiction.

I glanced over to the people around me in the cinema ever so often, watching as they leaned forward in fascination. The movie contains interviews with several experts on the negative effects that the obsession with platforms like Twitter and Instagram can have on individuals and society at large.

I'm sure I was not the only person who was left reflecting on my own social media usage and feeling a little guilty that I had been aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed just minutes before the movie had started.

But as much as the documentary had intrigued me, I was also left wanting more. I had hoped that the movie would go beyond just sit-down interviews. Yes, there was some footage of the lives led by the influencers, but for a film that touched so strongly on the addictive side of social media and it's negative consequences, I had almost hoped that we would be given a chance to see that first-hand – perhaps through subjects recounting major negative experiences they've had, and talking openly about them instead of just scratching the surface. Maybe creators could have also included a social experiment, or highlighted news stories which had social media addiction at its forefront – just something meaty that would have made the film that much more impactful.

That being said, if you ever wanted to know what it's like being popular on social media, I'm talking about the good and the bad, then this documentary is one to look out for.