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Documentary: Strike a Rock

Director: Aliki Saragas
Producers: Aliki Saragas, Liani Maasdorp, Anita Khanna
Writer: Aliki Saragas

Strike a Rock is compelling documentary set in the North West mining town of Marikana. Arguably a sequel to Miners Shot Down (2014), Strike a Rock (2017), directed and written by 27-year old University of Cape Town film student Aliki Sargas, details the aftermath of the brutal mining massacre that took the lives of 37 miners in August 2012. Sargas provides an intimate account of life in the mining town after the massacre which left many women widows.

Primrose Sonti and Thumeka Magwangqana, the film’s protagonists and leaders of the women’s organisation: Sikhala Sonke, hold a torch of hope for the women whose dignity has been assaulted in the brutal socio-economic and political milieu of the post-apartheid state. As a competing documentary, Strike a Rock effectively strikes a balance between exposing the intersectionality of multi-layered systemic oppression (race, class and gender) while attempting to restore the humanity of the women living in Wonderkop, Marikana. This was achieved by focussing solely on their collective voice, thus positioning them as a symbol of strength as opposed to the tired narrative of helpless victims; this sentiment is reinforced in the title.

The brilliant use of cinematography such as the predominant use of close-up camera shots, establishes an intimacy between the audience and the film’s participants- which at times feels intrusive. This technique spurs emotion, yet forces the viewer to maintain a critical lens. A slight critique is that the conclusion fell flat because it appeared that the documentary was ending at various points before the actual conclusion. However, the vivid storyline and excellent cinematography more than make up for this minor shortfall. The fact that this is a female led production makes the documentary a tad bit more empowering.


This story emanates from the Student Media Lab, a collaborative student-reporting project spearheaded by the Centre for Communication, Media and Society in partnership with The Durban International Film Festival. The views of this article reflect the opinions of the student reviewer, Shannon-Leigh Landers. Landers is a Master’s student at the University of KwaZulu Natal, who is passionate about feminist activism in the global South and Identity politics. She is also interested in the media’s role in creating a platform for the emergence of a politics from below.