CELLPHONE-FRIENDLY MUSIC DOWNLOAD APPS

There are 88 million cellphones with internet in South Africa, double the amount of the population. How do you as a creative distribute your content and be innovative in the age of social media?

– Rifqah Abrahams, Media Practitioner/Media Studies Lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Manteiga, a multi-disciplinary artist and band member of the super group Batuk says: “Music is the international lingua of love, peace and unity.” With that said, how do local musicians distribute their music to a broad South African audience without Iphones for Itunes, Deezer for streaming, Soundcloud for streaming with download option for only super advanced phones/PC etc. South Africa has talented musicians with monumental albums that are hard to access, let alone download. For example, if a local music fanatic wants to download Spoek Mathambo’s (an indie musician) first album, Father Creeper, and she does not have Itunes to download it, let alone a Twitter/Facebook account to contact Spoek’s manager for direct sales, what can she do?

There is no cellphone friendly music download app that music fanatics can access and download South African music legally. The music fanatic, we will name her Lerato, uses a Samsung J1 and does not do internet banking and cannot access Itunes but wants to support local albums both recent and past. The answer to this predicament is cellphone-friendly music download apps. We will call it the Mzansi Music Download App. Lerato can either purchase the music download voucher at a leading retailer or through the apps’ agents on the streets (spaza shops, taxi ranks etc.), ask a friend with online banking to purchase a voucher on her behalf, or let the app deduct airtime equivalent to the voucher? There are many Leratos out there, who want to purchase South African music of all genres and styles, whether indie or mainstream, classic and modern.

Musicians and record labels should approach this app as absolute mass distribution of music to the people who do not have access to upmarket devices and leading online stores.

Let us develop this app for the love of music.

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IMPORTANCE OF TOUR APPS AND INNOVATION

Tourism is one of the largest economic sectors in South Africa but how do we digitalise tourist attractions for domestic and international tourists?

The answer is developing tour apps that curate attractions and include certified tour guides to be booked by the power of a tap button. I realised the need for a tourism app when I met an interesting touristy person in Pretoria CBD. Being a curious and friendly chap, I greet the tourist (Kamogelo), exchange Facebook names and add, “I live in Soshanguve, you should come over and explore it.” I received the coldest response from Kamogelo: “What?! You want me to get robbed? There’s just too much crime over there.”  Being a proud Soshanguve resident, I mention that I will be his host (tour guide) and that still does not sit well with him, especially from a stranger that you just met.

I reflected and had a LIGHT BULB MOMENT: “Why don’t we have tour apps that have tour guides on the go to cater for people that want to visit the hood but do not know anyone and do not want to call tour operators for expensive elitist township tours?” We will call the app Mahlanyeng Tour App. This app has tour guides around every hot spot in Pretoria/Tshwane and its townships 24/7. If the user does not want to book a guide, there is a route map that shows the “dos and dont’s” of visiting the area of interest with emergency/panic buttons should the tour go astray.

One of my favourites places in Soshanguve is the iconic Aubrey Matlala Street because of its eclectic student influx, vibey music venues like Shot Left, lounges such as Van Tuka to name a few. There is lack of curatorship on Aubrey Matlala Street. The app would at least give a boost to icons in and around Soshanguve. Information boards explaining that Soshanguve is in fact an acronym for SO- meaning Sotho cultures (Basotho), SHA- meaning Shangaan cultures (BaShangaan), NGU- meaning Nguni cultures (Abenguni) and VE- meaning Venda cultures (VhaVenda). A fun fact for those who are not aware. This is just a fraction of what needs to be built into Aubrey Matlala Street.

I am talking about re-branding the whole of Aubrey Matlala through design. By design I mean refurbishing the street into an exhilarating experience for locals and visitors much like Cape Town’s Long Street. Envisage Aubrey Matlala Street with alternative music clubs (not only house music appreciation venues), high fashion boutiques, art galleries, museums, independent cinemas, swimming clubs, bicycle tours,  a travel agency, ATMs, sport bars, coffee shops etc. This could be a huge boost to Soshanguve tourism.

Going back to the Mahlanyeng Tour App, most investors (app developers and the like) would question: how do we make money? The advertising space on the app’s interface will generate income. For example a collaboration with Shot Left (a South African domestic tourism initiative) as a client would generate income monthly or even annually etc. The listed attractions in the app’s map can pay rent for being recommended/ curated plus archiving their product/service reviews.

Mahlanyeng Tour App can start small with Tshwane region attractions as well as Greater Gauteng regions and expand to national attractions across various provinces.

APPS TO SOLVE STUDENT PLANNING AND FUNDING CRISES

My observations tell me that South African prospective students experience high levels of stress and anxiety, because of lack of resources that allow planning and funding to be organised at least a year ahead. A couple of recent matriculants I acquaint with came to me for advice and guidance, to my surprise, none of them knew the importance of planning a year in advance like applying to at least 5 institutions, bursars, loans, student residences etc. Communication barriers in South Africa like inaccess to technological devices (smartphones, laptops, DSTV etc.) as well as information (course information, course interest and requirements) contribute to their lack of knowledge on planning and funding etc.

LIGHT-BULB MOMENT! A student planning app is the solution to this predicament. We can call it Mahlanyeng Student Planning App. On this student planning app, you create a username and an account, afterwards you design your study route. As an app user, you select the type of course you would like to enrol: automatically, local and international institutions offering the course appear on your page with vital information such as closing dates, application fees, bursaries/scholarship/loans available, tuition, textbooks, requirements etc. The app automatically saves your course information and synchronises the deadlines for course and funding applications on cellphone reminders and calendar.

Parents can even monitor their children’s progress on course applications through the app and see the milestones achieved. The Mahlanyeng Student App will have stages to encourage the user to take action for their future endeavours. For example, let us say the user has passed stage 1, all the application deadlines are met then proceeds to stage 2: working world.  The app alerts the user with all national and international companies offering job positions, internships, learnerships, volunteering as well as business opportunities for their careers.

The question most app developers/investors would ask is: how does the app generate income? Advertising space can generate income to fund the organisational activities of the app business. Universities, student residences, tourism attractions and educational initiatives can pay the app rent to advertise their services etc.

One of the major concerns for prospective students wanting to study abroad or outside their province is comfortable accommodation. Having had experienced this problem as a student years ago, I took a big risk of travelling from Pretoria to Cape Town without securing safe and sound accommodation. If it was not for a stranger turned friend (Thank you Elias) who I just met in the bus I would have been homeless on arrival just after registration. Not all people are just as kind, and not everyone will have a blessing I had. Technology can solve this student housing problem. The Mahlanyeng Student Plan App should have certified temporary and permanent student accommodation directory that is convenient, affordable and safe to travel to campus.

Innovation through social media applications is key to addressing student planning and funding crises.

IMPORTANCE OF SOUTH AFRICAN-OWNED FILM APPS

“There are 88 million cellphones with internet in South Africa, double the amount of the population. How do you as a creative distribute your content and be innovative in the age of social media?” – Rifqah Abrahams, Media Practitioner.

I believe that film is a powerful tool we can use to learn and understand each other in an intercultural country and world we live in. They say “It takes a movie to move mountains.” In an age of cross-cultural exchange experiences and transnationalism on the forefront, it is imperative that we use film as a unifier between two strangers apart: geographically and ideologically to learn about each other and maybe reinforce social cohesion?

Let us look at South Africa as our case study, we have several movie-appreciating subcultures: cinema nouveau fans, Hollywood blockbuster fans, Netflix/Showmax film fans, Afrikaans film fans, black films fan, SA English drama fans, SA trans-racial film fans, film festival fans, all rounders and so on. This creates divisions not only caused by lack of disposable income and inaccessibility of cinemas/film fests let alone expensive data costs for streaming/downloading films, but halts social cohesion. Film apps can bridge the gap between barriers to accessing various kinds of film regardless of one’s preferences caused by design, like being exposed to a certain genre/film culture and becoming accustomed to it.

Imagine film fanatics from Soshanguve (a largely black transcultural township in Pretoria) and Claremont (a largely white Boere surburb in Pretoria) with access to this film app (we will call it Mzansi Film App), download a string of films other than their own representations just to learn a new language and connect through universal themes as shown in the story: social cohesion would improve because black and Boere communities have been separated geographically because of Apartheid. The same goes for English communities, Indian communities, Chinese communities and transracial communities that have been separated by the regime.

Affordability, less data usage, archive list of all South African recent and past films as the selling point for the envisaged Mzansi Film App. International blockbusters would also be a feature of the app, provided distributors are willing to test the market. Most business investors would worry about the profitability of the app but you need not. The strategy is cheap purchase of South African films in a mass downloads. Let us say the Mzansi Film App has 5 000 subscribers who have each downloaded a film called Tess (released in 2017) for R10 per download with a size of 200MB. That equals to R50 000 gross sales, less film owner’s share and co-investor share which would roughly equate to R29 000 profit. Let us envision the sales for the year including new release movies available for download.

Some investors may worry about income generation, as in how do we directly generate cash: do we share returns with telecommunication companies from customer’s airtime? Do we also sell movie vouchers at leading retail stores? Do we do it the street way by having agents across SA selling vouchers? These are crucial questions important to answer for the app’s feasibility and sustainability.

 

FILM SOCIETIES AS ALTERNATIVE FUNDING FORM

South Africans are people-orientated and most citizens have membership of clubs/ societies/stokvels etc. as a form of support. But have we ever thought of using film societies as an alternative film funding form? Here’s why:

Let us say our hypothetical film society is called Mahlanyeng Film Club with 1 000 members across South Africa with a monthly fee of R100 per person. Monthly contributions amount to R100 000. Therefore annual contributions equals  R1 200 000, enough to produce an independent feature film (A feature film is an hour and half+ length film). This is an overview of how the Mahlanyeng Film Society could run:

Year 1: Contribution fees as pre-production funding 

This means that preproduction (planning of the film’s development: research, scriptwriting, script editing, casting) will be funded to produce the script, finalise casting (auditioning appropriate actors and preparing for rehearsals), organise shooting locations in advance and book the production crew.

The interest income could be shared among members and applies to all the steps below.

Year 2: Contribution fees as production + post-production funding 

The contributions for Year 2 would be allocated to fund production, that is the filming of all scenes in the script which is normally the most expensive phase of producing a film because of the overheads like accommodation and salaries for actors and crew, catering, office rentals, set design, location rentals and security expenses etc.

Post-production is the editing of the film that includes narration recording, sound design, score, grading, exporting footage into final product etc.

Year 3: Contribution fees as marketing and distribution funding

Year 3 contributions would fund marketing of the film across various media like posters, magazines, social media sites, press releases, premieres and engagements with fans.

The yearly contributions would also fund distribution deals across various film distributors whether on video-on-demand sites, film streaming sites and box office rentals (e.g. Ster-Kinekor, Nu-Metro etc.)

Year 4: Contribution fees as back-up capital for film and release 

Year 4 is the actual marketing and building the publicity of the film at least 6 months before release. Half of the yearly contributions will be back-up capital that will assist in promoting the film through a strategic PR campaign, which will ensure a greater return of investment.

Year 5: Await returns and film investment 2 begins

Year 5 is where members expect their returns. For example, let us predict that the gross profit of the film is R10 Million and the cost was R4 Million equals R6 Million  profit. R6 Million profit divide by 1 000 members equals R6 000 per member excluding another return for movie number 2, which will be released mid-Year 6, equals R12 000 per member presumably.

This film funding alternative could be catalytic to the development of African media owners if executed with diligence and high quality measures.

We cannot afford to have major television networks, private investors and government funding organisations as the only form of funding for aspiring and established filmmakers because it halts not only the growth of the film industry, but our collective film culture to not thrive. Secondly, if we do not become proactive in having our own alternative film funding investments, we limit to create opportunities for ourselves and future generations of South African filmmakers. Like they say “Rome was not built in one day,” so was Hollywood. It is in your hands, Mzansi.

Essay Behind Mojapelo The Film

Mojapelo is a non-conventional surrealist and horror-fantasy film I am currently scripting. The project started in 2013 and I hope to complete the script end of this year. This is an introductory essay I wrote on the themes and issues (conflict) in Mojapelo’s social analysis. In August 2015, my cool friends and I shot visual inspiration behind the concept of Mojapelo which feature in this piece.

Mojapelo. poster image 34 Cole as Nare by Katlego Kganyago

Still from Mojapelo showing lead actor, Colbin Greene as Nare.  Photograpaher: Katlego Kganyago

Introduction

Homophobia is the hatred or fear of homosexuals – that is, lesbians and gay men – sometimes leading to acts of violence and expressions of hostility. Homophobia is not confined to any one segment of society, and can be found in people from all walks of life. Organized hate groups have viciously attacked homosexuals and have used especially violent language in attempting to persecute and intimidate them.

Anti-Defamation League 2013

Homophobia in the African context is ironic because pre-colonial homosexual relationships existed and were widely appreciated (Anderson, 2007, p. 124). Anderson furthermore states that the notion, ‘homosexuality is unAfrican’ should be abolished as Africans used to openly engage in same-sex relations (Anderson, 2007, p. 125).

The historical amnesia is regarded as a mental erasure of experiences through oppression forms like laws, brutality, and colonial rule as mentioned above. Anderson also proves that homosexuality has been widely neglected in African literature and how it contributes enormously to the denial of homosexuality, transvestism, transsexuality and intersexuality.
In this essay, I will discuss how the historical amnesia on homosexuality contributes to homophobia and its impact, why my film addresses homophobia and provides a solution through the filmic world.

Impact of homophobia (Themes)

Homosexuals experience rejection from friends and family, indirectly and directly which causes fear (Fritscher 2012):

The fear of rejection can be life-limiting, preventing us from reaching our full
potential or going after our dreams. A fear of rejection often feels
overwhelming and even hopeless. Although a complex emotional reaction, it is
in many ways like a phobia. The fear of rejection runs the gamut in both
severity and outward expression

Gay and lesbian people experience loss of loved ones. In an interview I conducted with Dr. Nic Theo, he revealed that he lost his parents because of being a transgender male. DJ Divalash, an international DJ from Soshanguve (in Pretoria) is disowned by his parents for being openly gay. I was forced to alternate rooms because my roommate felt acculturated by my sexuality. I lost a great friend in primary because I am gay. This results to emotional problems and addiction is often  a resort (Janine 2013).

Gay and lesbian macabre killings in South Africa alone are becoming frequent (Davis 2012) yet the Constitution protects them. Thapelo Makutle, was brutally murdered in his homewtown, Kuruman for being openly gay. Makutle’s body was discovered with his genitalia placed in his mouth (Nosarka 2012). Phumeza Nkolonzi was also viciously killed by a group of men who were intimidated that she was openly lesbian (Davis 2012).

Character Behaviour
Gay and lesbian people, especially those who are have not disclosed their sexual orientations become pathological liars (Drescher, 2006, p.16):

Sullivan’s (1956) theories of dissociation elaborate how a sexual identity can be separated from the rest of one’s persona. For example, selective inattention is a common, non-pathological process, akin to tuning out the background noise on a busy street. In more intense dissociative mechanisms, double lives are lived yet not acknowledged. One sees clinical presentations of closeted gay people lying somewhere between selective inattention, most commonly seen in the case of homosexually self-aware patients thinking about “the possibility” that they might be gay, to more severe dissociation –in which any hint of same-sex feelings resides out of conscious awareness. More severe forms of dissociation are commonly observed in homosexually self-aware married men who cannot permit themselves the thought of coming out.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience severe sexual repressions and lead to urges of desperate fulfillment of fantasies. This is seen in Oliver Hermanus’ Skoonheid (2011)where Francois (Deon Lotz) rapes his friend’s son Christian Roodt (Charlie Keegan) at the climax of the film. Francois deliberately becomes masochistic so that he could have Christian’s attention. They arrive at a hotel, and Francois offers Christian money for a favour, to his surprise, he is shocked to learn that he has to return the favour by having sex with him. Francois forces Christian to perform fellatio but he is reluctant. Out of frustration, Francois rapes Christian whilst he is yearning silently for help.

Some queer people also experience self-hate because they deny their sexual identities (Kisker, 1997,p.201). Lunga Ngqendeshe, a real-life character in the film connotes in an interview that a man should not possess feminine performativity. The subtext of this erroneous self-affirmation suggests that he was once discriminated and refuted for acting ‘feminine’. Self-hate like the one Lunga has is inevitable as he often seeks approval to heterosexual men, and that is reciprocal: in order for him to be socially accepted he has to act in a certain way to be regarded as masculine, to gain a sense of belonging.

Mojapelo (The Heart-Devourer) addresses homophobia by deriving a concept from an indigenous African proverb in Sepedi, “Mmapelo o ja serati, sekgethelwa ga a se rate” – which closely translates as: The heart devours what it likes and hates if you choose on its behalf. The proverb is still spoken and serves as oral tradition evidence – but confronts the contemporary homophobic African community to begin acknowledging how erased heritage causes a distorted mentality of gender identity constructs.

Mojapelo. Poster Image 29 Cole as Nare by Katlego Kganyago

Still from Mojapelo showing lead actor Colbin Greene as Nare. Photographer: Katlego Kganyago

The film is a parable to the African state of homophobia. In the somewhat surrealistic but fantastical filmic world, the characters have to literally eat their hearts when they deny love to someone to prevent losing their minds. The devouring of the heart is a metaphor of denial as the grotesque imagery of the blood-dripping organ shows cruelty to one’s desires. The prevention of losing the mind is allegorical to the historical amnesia on homosexuality. It is only up to the protagonist, Nare to emancipate himself to pursue love regardless of validation.

Mojapelo. Poster Image A. Nare and Tau Kissing passionately by Hosia Mashao and Katlego Kganyago

Still from Mojapelo showing lead actors, Colbin Greene (Left) as Nare and Mack Kganyago (Right) as Tau. Photographer: Katlego Kganyago

The film provides a solution for African history to be re-introduced in the education system but also be revived as a Pan-Africanist movement. Sexuality and gender studies should be reinforced as compulsory subjects to eradicate amnesia and allow consciousness to prevail in the sexual liberation of the gay community in the future.

Bibliography

1. Anderson, B 2007, The Politics of Homosexuality in Africa. Retrieved on February 07,
2013 from http://www.africanajournal.org/PDF/vol1/vol1_6_Ben%20Douglas.pdf
2. Anti-Defamation League 2001, Homophobia. Retrieved on March 17, 2013 from
http://archive.adl.org/hate-patrol/homophobia.asp
3. Fritscher, L 2013. Coping with the fear of rejection. Retrieved on March 14, 2013 from
http://phobias.about.com/od/selfhelp/qt/Coping-With-The-Fear-Of-Rejection.htm, 4.
4. Davis, R 2012, SA’S gay hate crimes an epidermic of violence less recognized. Retrieved
on March 15, 2013 from http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-06-27-sas-gayhate-
crimes-an-epidemic-of-violence-less-recognised/#.UU2g2xdvDs8 Rebecca Davis,
2012
5. Nosarka, A 2012, Outrage at murder of ‘gay’ victim. Retrieved on March 12, 2013 from
http://www.citizen.co.za/citizen/content/en/citizen/localnews?oid=286100&sn=Detail&pi
d=146826&Outrage-at-murder-of–%E2%80%98gay%E2%80%99-victim
6. Drescher, J 2007, The psychology of the closeted individual and coming out. Retrieved on March 14, 2013 from
http://www.sequeltsi.com/files/library/Closeted_and_Coming_Out.pdf

Books
1. Kisker, G., 1977. The disorganized personality. New York: Mc-Graw-Hill

Filmography
1. Skoonheid, 2011. [Film] Directed by Oliver Hermanus. South Africa: Moonlighting
Films

The need for more lesbian heroes in films: A psycho-analytical discursive essay

Introduction

In support of Xolelwa ‘Ollie’ Nhlabatsi stunning short film, Lost In The World (2016) and Cathrine Stewart’s captivating film Whilst You Were Not Looking (2015), this essay aims to promote the interests and concerns of the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) community.

The World Unseen Lovescene

Snapshot from The World Unseen (2007), directed by Shamin Sarif, is regarded as one of the gems in South African queer cinema.

South African cinema is one of the oldest in the world but fails to expand because of the lack of superstructure needed and the lack of an artistic portrayal of a South Africa, if there is one (Maingard, 2007). Maingard suggests that Apartheid causes the subject of many South African films to perpetuate thematics of segregation, particularly emphasizing repressed male sexuality, effemination and male domination. As a result, the male protagonist in South African film plays a dominant figure in political liberation (Mapantsula, 1987) and economic emancipation (Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema, 2008). The role of the woman in South African film is silenced if not ignored or utmost ghostly. The image of the lesbian woman is, in a way, a haunting demon that needs a deadly vanquish.

Queer cinema is a term used to describe an alternative genre that consists of sexual expression and celebration of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality and intersexuality (Doty, 2000). Lesbian women are less represented in films generally and as a result, they have to ‘watch for the sake of watching’ and have to change clothes, like a transvestite at the cinema as a result (Wilton, 2000).

In South Africa, there is an alarming rate of lesbian women who are being violated for being proud of their sexual orientations in townships and villages (Contemporary Sexuality, 2011). It is men who rape lesbians and this is called ”corrective rape”, as the rapists inculcate an erroneous assertion that raping them would ”correct” their homosexual orientation to a heterosexual orientation. Lesbian characters in South African film are far less when compared to gay characters, as noted above the lesbian character as well is silenced (Botha, 2014).

One of the theories in feminist film psychoanalysis is the Name of the Father and the Law, a theory that metaphorises the symbolic male body and its Order, that implies that women are and should be controlled by men by completely being submissive (Mulvey, 2000). Mulvey suggests that Hollywood’s (alluding to mainstream films and pop culture) capitalist thematics perpetuate the Name of the Father and the Law: the fact that few women are portrayed as bosses in films and that they are shown as showgirls only. This paper acknowledges the historic misrepresentation of heterosexual women in film is parallel to the silenced lesbian character, since they both have to obey The Father.

In this essay, I will discuss the representation of lesbians in a South African film The World Unseen (2007) (part A) in relation to the feminist film theory of Rule of Father and the Law (part B). I will also contemplate on the need for various representations of lesbian characters in future in the depth of my findings, since the lesbian is silenced and haunted, much like a ghost: being absent on-screen but there off-screen.

Film Poster for The World Unseen

Film poster for The World Unseen (2007) showing Sheetal Sheth as Amina (Left) and Lisa Ray (Right) as Miriam.

 

Literature Review
1. Psychoanalysis of the lesbian feminist film
The lesbian spectator as indicated, has to wear several outfits to relate to all the characters since her sexuality is unusual if not allowed (Wilton, 2000):
Issues of identification and spectatorship remain moot within and between competing theories of film and audience, and are of course especially problematic for a lesbian viewer, for only a tiny proportion of films construct a lesbian viewing position or enable lesbians to enjoy uncomplicated identification with either onscreen character or voyeuristic camera. Indeed, if Laura Mulvey is to be believed, it is impossible for any woman to get pleasure from a mainstream narrative film without temporarily unsexing herself in order to carry out what is understood to be an intrinsically male set of behaviours, a la Lady Macbeth (Mulvey 1981).
2. Psychoanalysis of the post-feminist lesbian film
The expression ”post-feminism” focuses on the assumed second phase of feminism which is characterised by women’s collective movements through the 1960s to 2000s, 2000s marking ”post-feminism” (Brunson, 2000):
The key story in this popular story is that the post-feminist woman has a different relation to femininity than either the pre-feminist or the feminist woman. As a persona in the public sphere, the post-feminist woman is also not necessarily ”white”, which I think is the case historically, with the persona ”1970s feminist” which of course is not to say that white women are or were feminists.

Methodology
1. Qualitative research method
The methodology for this paper is a qualitative method particularly focusing on in depth interviews with subjects and also an interpretation of the psychoanalysis of the film The World Unseen (2007) because (Shrum and Duque, 2014): Film and video are used in qualitative research as data collection tools, as sources of information and dialogue between researchers and participants, and as mechanisms for disseminating research results. The 20th century was the century of film; the 21st is the century of digital video. The 20th saw major innovations in recording and film-making, many applicable to ethnography. But owing to characteristics of the technology itself, visual approaches never became a prominent feature of qualitative research. A methodology may be viewed as the application of a technology to some feature of the world, producing the traces that serve as a basis for analysis. Current video technology offers a spectacular methodological promise, making it the first choice for ethnographers of the future. Video is a more robust and transparent data collection technology. As a reflexive prompt, it can help individuals or groups provide richer data.
2. Subjects: My subjects are three lesbian women which I have conducted one-on-one in depth interviews with. Two of them are studying at CPUT in the faculty of business and one is a filmmaker.  I also used film characters Amina, Omar and Miriam (from the film The World Unseen (2007) as subjects.

Findings

PART A.
1. Representation of women in a pre-feminist era lesbian film, The World Unseen (2007)
The film is set in 1952 in Cape Town, where Apartheid’s oppressive laws prevail. The story is about two women, Miriam and Amina from traditional backgrounds who fall in love regardless of the demeaning norms they have to conform to, to be socially accepted. Miriam (played by Lisa Ray), a housewife accustomed to her duties of taking care of the household business and the children, shows her commitment to the Name of the Father and the Law:
1.1. In a scene where Miriam tells Amina (played by Sheetal Sheth) about her life story, the camera is still and framed in a medium shot. Miriam speaks softly in a sombre tone and looks down on the table as she reveals to Amina that she landed in South Africa from India because of the arranged marriage. Miriam’s life as a result, has become monotonous: forever bowing to her husband, Omar (played by Parvin Dabas) and his orders.

The-World-Unseen-01 Snapshot

Snapshot from The World Unseen

1.2. The scene where the film climaxes also reveals the popular castration of the Father (Omar) by the follower (Miriam). In a candlelit dining room, Miriam rebukes Omar that it is her right to learn how to drive to go to work. Omar is terrified by her confidence and as a result, stands up from the dinner table and marches angrily to flip the counter to the ground. Omar’s aggression symbolises the agony of being castrated, this implies that he has lost his power and control over Miriam and that she is not his object anymore (Mulvey 2000; Doane 2000; Brunston 2000; Doty 2000; Clover 2000). Omar yells to Miriam: ”You will not be my wife at work!” Miriam replies, ”But I will work and take care of the children and the shop.” Omar loses his temper again, ”I don’t like it. If I don’t like it, that should be enough.” Miriam answers boldly ”It is not enough. It has never been. I just didn’t know what to tell you until now.”

2008_the_world_unseen_003

Snapshot from The World Unseen showing Parvin Dabas (Left) as Omar (Miriam’s husband) and Lisa Ray (Right) as Miriam.

PART B

2. Representation of lesbians in ”post-feminist” era films
2.1 The interviews revealed that Rule of the Father and the Law still dominates in South Africa’s films and television series at the moment. This implies that the Law has not been demolished and the lesbian character is still silenced and at the same time ghostly – parallel to the frame of the post-feminist heterosexual woman trapped in the ”pretty woman” image. One of the lesbian women mentions: ”…Everyone on TV is straight, there are few if not no lesbians on TV.” This remark recalls that parallel between lesbian women and heterosexual women – that women are being indoctrinated with heterosexuality and are being othered if they choose to disobey The Father. In other words, the ”straight” characters in films are not being themselves and are simply obeying the Law: To be straight and accept patriarchal rule or be ghostly, and in this case no one wants to be a ghost for it will be difficult to come to life. The Father in this context is the collective, masculine driven possession and obsession of the female as the castrator and as the symbol of visual pleasure (Cook & Johnston, 2000; Mulvey 2000).
2.2 The interview with a lesbian filmmaker, inevitably highlights the elixir of Rule of the Father and the Law, she mentions ”… SA television lesbians are not portrayed well. Instead of portraying the real side of lesbianism like the kind of love between the two women, the lifestyle and family, television always portrays the negative side like being raped, unchristian and how the society sees lesbianism.” Since the Rule of the Father implies that women epitomise the fetish for erotic visual pleasure, the spectator, whether male or female subconsciously obeys The Father due to recurrence of the female being the castrator (Mulvey, 2000). As a result The Father orders his followers to have one main vision of the female body and her sexuality, which Mulvey describes as ”to-be-looked-at-ness”. The lesbian character as a result, has to be a ghost, since the heterosexual woman is forced into early sexualisation from birth for scopophilic purposes by The Father.
Conclusion
The Rule of the Father and the Law prohibits the cinematic development of women characters regardless of their sexuality (Doane, 2000). The Father, the collective masculine identities in films enforce women to follow their orders literally and figuratively. Literally, the depiction of women as metanarrative for voyeurism and fetishism have violated their right to freedom of expression. Figuratively, the depiction of women as showgirls shows the analogy for the fear of the male to be castrated – that is denying that women have power and not just their ‘womanliness’ which is is innate (Mulvey, 2000). The findings reveal that the historic misrepresentation of women as erotic objects and castrators still persist and that heterosexual women are trapped in the order of obeying the Father (making their souls perish) for his sadomasochistic pleasure, whilst the lesbian/bisexual women are seen as ghosts as their lives are deemed as not that important to crossover on screen.

See the trailer for The World Unseen

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Books
1. Brunsdon, C., 2000, Post-feminism and shopping in films, Arnold, New York.
2. Clover, C.J., 2000, Her body, himself, Arnold, New York.
3. Cook, P. & Johnston, C., 2000, The place of women in the cinema of Raoul Walsh, Arnold, New York.
4. Doane, M., 2000, Film and the Masquerade, Arnold, New York.
5. Doty, A., 2000, There’s something queer here, Arnold, New York.
6. Kilbourn, R.J.A., Cinema, Memory, Modernity, Arnold, New York.
7. Maingard, J., 2007, South African National Cinema, Routledge, New York.
8. Mulvey, L., 2000, Visual pleasure and narrative cinema, Arnold, New York.
9. Tomaselli, K., Williams, A., Steenveld, L., & Tomaselli, R., 1986, Anthropos Publishers, Bellville.
10. Wilton, T., 2000, On not being Lady Macbeth: some (troubled) thoughts on lesbian spectatorship, Arnold, New York.

Articles
1. Contemporary Sexuality, 2014, Retrieved on May 01, 2014 from CPUT’s EBSCO HOST database.
2. Botha, M.P., The New African Queer Aesthtics, Retrieved on May 01, 2014 from http://www.kinema.uwaterloo.ca/article.php?id=404&feature
3. Shrum, W., & Duque, R.B., Film and Video Qualitative Research, Retrieved on May 01, 2014 from http://srmo.sagepub.com/view/sage-encyc-qualitative-research-methods/n175.xml

FILMOGRAPHY

1. Mapantsula, 1987, Directed by Oliver SCHMITZ, Haverbeam: South Africa.

2. Gangter’s Paradise: Jerusalema, 2008, Directed by Ralph ZIMAN, Muti Films: South Africa.
3. The World Unseen, 2007, Directed by Shamim SARIF, Enlightenment Productions: South Africa

4. Lost In The World, 2016, Directed by Xolelwa Ollie NHLABATSI. Blackweather Productions and Hand Drawn House Productions: South Africa

5. Whilst You Weren’t Looking, 2015, Directed by Cathrine Stewart. OIA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Phat Free Films and Puo Pha Productions.