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Review: Social Justice


Social Justice is a conscious raising package of short feature films located in a number of settings and tells five stories namely A Single Body, Lost in Transmission, Kelechi, Crossing Lines and Tula Tula linked by common themes of questioning social justice and who it truly serves.

A Single Body is a French offering by Sotiris Dounoukos which follows the lives of two best friends who worked together at a butchery where one (Amo Akil) got injured at work. A short while after the incident had taken place; the employees were expected to go back to work as if nothing had happened. Days leading to the incident, the butchery owner in dire need of capital had dropped meat prices twice.

Lost in Transmission set in a South African suburban area in 1990 and follows the life of a Math Professor who is attempting to make contact with space a world that is outside his reality. The film is set days before Mandela’s prison release which came with a lot of uncertainty for the minority ruling class around what was to happen next not only socially, but economically and politically as well. The professor was in the eyes of his wife and family as being disconnected from the world, when in actual fact he was ahead of his time and in touch with a reality that was unknown to them. The more reality is revealed to him, the more he slips further away from his wife. When the announcement of Mandela’s release was made, he for the first time opened his garage doors and allowed the light signifying a new beginning and prospects for not only him, but the nation as a whole.

Kelechi directed by Holmes Awa is based on a true story of an intelligent young boy who had a disjointed arm as a result of being hit on the shoulder by a fellow classmate. Due to the socio - economic circumstances at home, he was not able to afford an operation that could not only potentially save his arm which he was told should be removed, but his life as well. In the movie the father made the decision to not seek financial assistant from his family for Kelechi’s surgery even though he had been told it was a matter of life and death. He further failed to listen to his wife who had advised him to do so for the sake of his son’s life. The father was egoistic and a true reflection of an African home where a women’s voice within the home is marginalized though she was also a breadwinner in the family. Kelechi accepted his mortality by making a sacrifice to give up the battle for his life in order for there to be peace in his family which had been disrupted as a result of his long term illness.

Crossing Lines explores the aftermath impacts of tribally – influenced killings in an African village long after it had taken place. It looks at two men who are opposite of each other, but share the same pain as had shared experiences though the roles were not shared. Kayihura a young doctor had not gotten over the brutal death of her mother and resorted to a slow death through drug abuse. The other being a young man who had spent 15 years of his adult life in jail and simply couldn’t face going back to his home villages as he still had the images of his past and attempted suicide. He was saved by Kayihura, than he saved him by fixing the radio and playing his mother’s music which was where in my view the lines crossed, social justice realized and the past was viewed positively.

Tula Tula is set in an African context that has a wide spread malaria epidemic when people mostly children die every day and death a norm, comes the assistance of a German doctor who could not believe the horrendous conditions of the hospitals. Here his educational expertise could not save lives. Due to the lack of medical supply as a result of corrupt and poor administration around dispatching of medication it was rather the social and political order which dictated who lived and who died. The doctor here learns that there are social ills beyond his control.

These short films clearly illustrate that the people at the grass roots who are the movers and shakers are the most marginalized in that their hard work is not matched by resources. Through this combination of different stories from different contexts the films illustrate that it’s the social ills that control people’s lives and reminds us of the teachings I wash your back you wash mine simply put “ubuntu”.



Mandisa Msebeni a Community Worker at Heart, Motivational Speaker and Blogger. I live to capture every moment.

Twitter: @msebeni

Facebook: Msebeyelanga Madela Mandisa



The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.


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