Gugulethu documentary shortlisted for top international award

A documentary celebrating 60 years since the founding of Gugulethu has received a thumbs up at this year’s Focal International Awards. Nominated for the best use of footage in a short film, the 17-minute documentary, Gugulethu 60, will know if it has won at a ceremony to be held next month at Troxy in Stepney, London.


Project director, Phumzile Nteyi, said: “This is remarkable as it simply says that the story of Gugulethu township will be mentioned on an international stage.

“This in return will change the negative perceptions about townships as places for crime and many other social ills that are always portrayed by the media in general. It is time that Gugulethu reclaim its pride as it is the second oldest township in Cape Town.”

Commissioned by the Museum Service of the Western Cape Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport to celebrate Gugulethu’s 60th anniversary, Plexus Films director and producer, Lauren Groenewald said the brief of the film was to portray the Struggle history of the township as well as current-day perspectives.

“The documentary juxtaposes archive with contemporary material to show how the past and the present are inseparable,” she said.

The documentary follows a linear journey and starts in 1958 when the first two families from Windermere were forcefully moved to Gugulethu, then known as Nyanga West.

It tracks a political timeline with major events of forced removals in 1958, students’ uprising in 1976 and political consciousness in the Black Consciousness Movement, 1980s political unrest and brutal police action, Gugulethu 7 and other political events, 1990s dawn of democracy and the killing of Amy Biehl, 1994 democracy and development in Gugulethu.

It features the story of Dr Sindiwe Magona, who grew up in Gugulethu, Geoffrey Mamputa, a social activist, Peter Motale, a businessman, Patrick Duze, a former Umkhonto we Sizwe veteran, Thembele Dick, a film-maker, Malusi Malefane, a designer and Thuleka Duze, a businesswoman.

“When people think of Gugulethu, they think about the killing of the Gugulethu Seven in the ’80s or they think about the murder of Amy Biehl. Gugulethu’s history holds much more than these two tragedies,” said Geoff Mamputa, a Gugulethu resident and social activist.

“One of the most exciting parts of the research was the archive and we ceremoniously acknowledge the archive agencies for their support.”

“The African News Agency (ANA) and the Independent Media Library at UCT, The Community Video Education Trust and the University of the Western Cape, Robben Island Museum, Mayibuye Archives as well as UCT Libraries Special Collections and the Black Sash Cape Western Archive, played a crucial role in the production of this doccie,” she said.

“To Groenewald winning this coveted award would mean that “new voices are being heard and celebrated.”