A local documentary on the impact air pollution has on South Durban residents took home the Best Documentary Short Award at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival hosted in San Jose, Los Angeles, last week.
CRUDE: Wentworth Community vs Big Oil tells the stories of residents from the South Durban Basin, their battles with ill health, their suffering at the hands of the surrounding fossil fuel companies, and their attempts to bring change to their community. Greenpeace hoped that the movie would create awareness and help steer South Africa away from new oil projects.
Award-winning climate activist and documentarian responsible for the film, Angelo Louw said that he was very happy about the response to the film, both locally and abroad.
“When you make movies that challenge big companies, many people are scared to support it because these companies are dangerous. I’m just happy that we are being offered the platform to screen the film all over the world, let alone win awards,” Louw said.
“It is so important that people understand what is going on in Wentworth so we can put an end to the suffering and prevent that type of suffering in other communities that the oil industry has its eye on. Only once we stop blaming communities like Wentworth for the suffering being inflicted on them, can we hold the real villains to account,” Louw added.
Louw said that very often, the media gets it wrong about our community because of the absence of Coloured people in newsrooms. Coming from decade-long journalism background which started at KwaZulu-Natal’s Witness, Louw said he was trying to correct the unfair perceptions the media pushes about our community.
“I started at a newspaper people nicknamed the ‘Whiteness’ because while people of colour did all the heavy-lifting there, we very seldom made it into the paper for anything good. That’s why the work we do is so important to me,” he said.
Malcolm Rainers, Louw’s long-time collaborator and co-director of CRUDE said that he was proud of the work they have created together, and what these documentaries were able to do to achieve justice for communities of colour.
“I am happy that I get to use my passion for filmmaking to drive change in the world and to service our communities. We didn’t think we would win at the film festival, so that was a huge surprise,” Rainers said.
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Dr Desmond D’sa, a veteran environmental activist from Wentworth who features in the film said that he is proud that a documentary of this stature is being honoured at international film festivals.
“I am happy that the world is becoming aware of our lived experiences. It is great that a film focusing on the struggles of local communities and organisations is receiving international acclaim. I hope people will see how dangerous the oil industry is and how much suffering they will continue to cause us if we allow them into our communities,” D’sa said.
CRUDE was originally released late last year at the Joburg 1-Minute Film Festival, which play longer films for the first time, and won the Best Story award. It was later premiered at the Durban International Film Festive in July this year, and is currently showing at the Africa Human Rights Film Festive in Cape Town.
The film will soon be available for online streaming on Greenpeace International’s YouTube channel, and is broadcasting on Cape Town TV as from the last week of October.
Cape Town TV is Free to Air in Cape Town and Nationally on Dstv Channel 263.