October 2014, living archive

Visionary Archive in Johannesburg

“Visionary Archive“ is divided into five thematic, interconnected projects, all of which investigate what contemporary, transcultural, curatorial and artistic work with archives and archival research could look like. The “B-Schemes – An Archive Project and Film Program on Film Productions for Black Viewers in 1970s and 1980s South Africa“ project is dedicated to carrying out detailed archive research on a corpus of South African films that has still not received the research attention it deserves, with the goal of carrying out a critical reappraisal of these films and giving them new visibility. The project is directed by Darryl Els in collaboration with Marie-Hélène Gutberlet. The result of this research alongside a selection of films from the B-Schemes pool will be presented as part of the closing event in Berlin in May 2015. From October 24 until 26 three of the films from the B-Schemes will be screened at The Bioscope Independent Cinema, a cinema space in Johannesburg co-founded and directed by Darryl Els.

“B-Schemes“ was a state program which coincided with the most repressive period of the Apartheid regime. During that phase, the state initiated a subsidy program whose goal was to produce “black films for black viewers“. The program was called “Bantu Cinema“ and soon became known as “B-Schemes“. It involved the production of hundreds of films being set in motion and funding being allocated accordingly. Comparisons as those with the Blaxploitation films in the USA of the same period or the film movements that formed part of the processes of decolonization (such as in Algeria, Senegal or Mozambique) only serve to reflect the unique nature of the B-Schemes films and South Africa’s increasing isolation under Apartheid. Over the last 25 years, film scholars have largely interpreted the B-Schemes films as Apartheid propaganda. More recently however, literature and media studies scholar Litheko Modisane has written about how this perception ignores these films’ critical potential and the fact that detailed research on their latent subversive implications is still lacking. This project is about taking precisely such a “second look“. In light of the massive film output during this period, the project concentrates on three key figures: Simon Sabela, Ken Gampu and Gibson Kente, whose works are still awaiting critical recognition and new public engagement.

Venue: The Bioscope Independent Cinema, 286 Fox St, Johannesburg, 2094, South Africa
Oct 24 & 26, 2014, JOE BULLET
, South Africa 1973, Louis de Witt/Tonie van de Merwe, OV (English), 79 min
Oct 25, 2014, UMBANGO (Land Claim), South Africa 1987, Tonie van de Merwe , OV (isiZulu), 69 min
Oct 26, 2014, MAGUBANE (Fishy Stones), South Africa 1990, Tonie van de Merwe, OV (isiZulu), 66 min

For more information: B-Schemes, The Bioscope Independent Cinema