Best Documentary Film 2014 - Indie Karoo Film Fest, South Africa
A city can be seen in news reports, crime statistics or the backgrounds of post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbusters. It can be explored through guided tours, from behind rolled up car windows or through politics and history. In ‘‘Jeppe on a Friday’’, Shannon Walsh and Arya Lalloo bring together a team of women directors to explore a different city: Johannesburg. The result is an intimate, quiet portrait of five people from Jeppestown, a decayed inner city neighbourhood. As they grapple with the existential and mundane over the course of a single day, these characters reveal the city’s specific textures, but also a universal human experience; familial love is behind restaurateur Arouna’s success, nostalgia binds Ravi to his dusty framing shop, ambition drives JJ’s ruthless property development, tradition is at the heart of Robert’s all-male Zulu choir, and everyday philosophy gives urban recycler Vusi his momentum. Part travelogue, part urban allegory, ‘‘Jeppe on a Friday’’ draws from a rich tradition of city-centred direct cinema, and offers a record of life in Johannesburg that demystifies the often maligned male-dominated metropolis.
A word from Tënk
Shortly after participating in the collective project, St-Henri, the 26th of August, filmmaker Shannon Walsh teamed up with co-director Arya Lalloo and a group of South African filmmakers to capture the daily life of a different neighbourhood over a one-day period. Blending the actions and reflections of five individuals in the Johannesburg neighbourhood of Jeppestown with precise and thoughtful technique, the film gradually reveals the contrasts in a neighbourhood that appears on the precipice of a major transformation via undercurrents of colonialism—real estate speculation and its ensuing gentrification. Re-watching this film ten years later, it’s hard for me not to wonder what these peoples’ daily lives look like now, and if they still have ties to the neighbourhood. By freezing these lifestyles in time, Jeppe on a Friday becomes an indispensable act of memory.
Teacher and programmer