|52 MINUTES |
PRODUCED, WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY KEVIN HARRIS FOR THE SOUTH AFRICAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES.
CAMERAMEN: Desmond Burmeister and Peter Tischauser
ASSISTANT CAMERAMEN: Clive Sacke, George Bartels and Paul Otten
SOUND: Mark Engels and Sean Murdoch
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT: Lesley Kowal
Kevin Harris is a freelance writer-director working mainly in the field of documentary filmmaking. In the interview which follows, he is talking to Stephen Coan. This We Can Do For Justice and Peace is one of a number of films that Kevin has made since his noisy departure from the Documentary Department of SABC-TV. The interview and the film both reflect his pioneering spirit and determination to make authentic films about South Africa for South Africans.
What is the subject of This We Can Do For Justice and Peace?
It is a film that gives the South African Council of Churches’ statement about the situation in South Africa. It features Bishop Desmond Tutu, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC) and also the Reverend Peter Storey who is the President of the SACC. It presents their point of view on South Africa today - where it’s heading and what we have to do in order to bring peaceful change. And so prevent some kind of holocaust. It’s set against the backdrop of re-locations - the phenomenon of mass removals of black peoples from white areas into the allocated Bantustans. This has been happening on a very large scale over the past 30 years. Over two million people have been moved.
Will the film be shown overseas?
Yes. Once it is released and shown here it will go to the BBC. But my priority intention in making films like this is that they should be seen by South African audiences for them to achieve their best effect. This is very difficult. This non-commercial distribution is how we are trying to make it happen. The other thing that is important about this film is that it is a statement about South Africa that expresses the urgent need for change and the re-assessment of the political situation, and this statement is made by South Africans. It isn’t an overseas assessment and from that point it is valuable. It should be seen on the BBC - or any other network for that matter - because if nothing else it is a South African interpretation and it shows very clearly that there are white South Africans living here under the system who are working for change, however small that group might be. Via the two spokesmen, Tutu and Storey, the film presents a black perspective and a white perspective - both with a common foundation in the SACC and a common goal on the South African situation. The film expresses anxieties of whites as well as the pain of blacks and this dual perspective is a healthy one. It’s a positive film.
Positive in what way?
Well again because of the media structure if you ask someone “Tell me about Tutu?” they only know they don’t like him, though they have no idea why. People would ask me: “How is your film going on the, er, ANC?” to them it’s all the same thing - terrorism and communism. Bishop Tutu somehow gets to fall under the same heading. Through this film he comes over as he is and that is a man who is committed to working for peaceful change, a man who cares very deeply about people of South Africa - he is religious man after all. His commitment to peaceful change is so great that he is prepared to go any length of personal sacrifice. This comes through very strongly in the film and he talks about his vision of South Africa with black and white living in harmony. The film ends on that positive note. It’s not a depressing thought unless you can’t accept the fact that one can live with change in this country.
This is the first documentary of this nature made in South Africa by South Africans, as opposed to some outside agency such as BBC or ITV. Is there a future for more films of this kind?
I think this film will be what decides that. There is very definitely a need for this sort of film in South Africa. The fact that it got made at all is something of a success. Now the exposure it gets to audiences will be the next measure of its success. If it is successful, others will follow. It can only encourage other people who would be interesting in working in this area that it is possible to do so.