British film maker Tony Fabian has already devoted a year to his ambitious project of making a series of documentaries to “rebalance” South Africa’s global image.
His intention is to produce eight hour-long movies for international consumption, focusing on the key challenges facing the young democracy. Fabian believes the country’s journey can once again become a guide for the rest of the world, and has been tapping into bright young SA voices that get drowned out in the media noise. I caught up with the respected movie director at one of my favourite London eateries to ask him why this project, why South Africa, why now? – Alec Hogg
I’m in one of my favourite London restaurants, Vivat Bacchus, which provides South African fare, and with me is Tony Fabian, who is busy doing a big project on South Africa. Tony, just go back a little bit. What interested you or what drew you to this project that you’re busy with?
Well, I’m a British-based filmmaker but I’ve had quite a long association with South Africa, starting with a documentary that I made in 2000, called ‘Township Opera’ which was about the Spier Music Festival. Then in 2007, I shot a film called ‘Skin’ with Sam Neill, Sophie Okonedo, and Alice Krige, which told the true story of Sandra Laing, a coloured girl born to white Afrikaner parents in the 50s. Through these projects I began to develop a relationship with the country, a deeper understanding and a love for the country. In more recent years, I have been puzzled by the dissonance between the very negative way that people often talk about the country, and the sense of hope, optimism, and possibilities that I feel when I’m actually there. So, that contradiction is something that I wanted to explore, and it became what will be my next project, which is called Good Hope.
Tell us a little more about Good Hope because it’s a number of documentaries – comprising a long, in-depth, and strong look at what’s going on in that society.
The Good Hope project comprises a number of different elements. It starts with a feature-length documentary, which is essentially for the international market. It will also be an eight-part series that will explore, as you say, in depth: politics, economics, education, public health, crime, sports, the arts, and the land. Each episode will be an hour long and what we will be doing is focussing on the problems and challenges within each of those areas, but also, offering the solutions through the next generation of South Africans. So, not the people who grew up under apartheid and only have that as a reference point, but those who grew up (or have at least spent their adult and working lives) after apartheid, because their attitudes are very different. They have a much more optimistic and hopeful view about the future of the country.
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