Dec 18, 2013

Punk in Africa!

 Punk in Africa

This immensly interesting documentary about the often overlooked punk scene in Southern Africa from the 1970s onward is now screening at various film festivals across the continent and in Europe.
Watch the trailer below and see the full list of screenings on the film website:


The striking story of a hidden, underground, even secret and banned movement. Bands with both black and white musicians broke the law. In the apartheid era, punk rock was comparable to worshipping the devil. Rediscover the real punk. Anarchy in SA.

While young people in the West started to free themselves from traditional authoritarian power relations in the early 1960s and to make the acquaintance of rock ‘n’ roll and later long hair and punk, in South Africa the institutionalised racism of Apartheid still existed. With the advent of punk music in the mid-1970s, for the first time there was a home-grown youth culture and an opportunity to resist oppressive regimes.

Punk in Africa tells the story of punk in South Africa and how it spread to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Kenya and played a role there in the political struggle. We get to see the most important bands and the legendary venues where they played, but also the evolution of punk music and the influence it had on modern South African bands. In the wings of the many tumultuous concerts, the documentary tells an alternative history of South Africa in the last 40 years, a story unknown to many.

Programmer Note by Gertjan Zuilhof:

A special film that does not immediately look special. At first sight (but not at first hearing) you could think it is a skilled but ordinary music documentary. It provides a summary of a specific period (the 1970s in South Africa), lets people speak who played a role back then and shows clips of performances. A television documentary, you could say.

There are however several elements that make the film special. To start with - the music. If you are now fifty and were living in a town in South Africa thirty years ago, then you have never heard the music before and never seen the fragments before. The fragments of music are all unique and have been specially tracked down - not the stock material that so often represents this genre - and themselves provide enough reason to see the film.

You could conclude that the film is not primarily a music film. It is a committed political document. A belated pamphlet maybe. The anarchistic music in the film and the multiracial bands that play the music, were in fact banned under the apartheid regime. It was literally underground music.
Anyway, what really makes a film special is not how special the subject is (even though punk in apartheid South Africa was pretty special), but the passion of the filmmaker for his subject. And only then can you conclude: Punk in Africa rocks!


“… bursting with the heyday of the multiracial punk scene … a loving emphasis on the surprising — and often overlooked — role that punk music played in Africa …” — NAT GEO MUSIC

“An interesting if accidental companion piece to recent docu hit ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ … ‘Punk in Africa’ chronicles the more overtly rebellious influence of punk music in that nation (and some neighboring ones) a few years later.” — Variety 

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