AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2011
By Don Simpson | October 26, 2011
Directors: Christian Vium, Karen Waltorp
Manenberg is a township of Cape Town South Africa that was created by the apartheid government in the late 1960s for poor “Coloured” families. It has since become grossly overpopulated and riddled with crime, primarily related to gang violence and drugs. Anthropologists Christian Vium and Karen Waltorp have lived in Manenberg since 2005, conducting extensive research and embedding themselves in Manenberg society.
Vium and Waltorp’s intimacy with their subjects — primarily Eric, Warren and Fazline — provides Manenberg with a uniquely immersive perspective. Eric, Warren and Fazline — as well as their respective families — have the utmost trust in Vium and Waltorp. The vérité camera is granted an all access pass to their lives, revealing warts and all.
This coming-of-age story becomes most effective when comparing the male and female struggles to exist in this dreadfully dilapidated South African ghetto. The men appear to have given up on any chance of improving their lives, thus opting to bury themselves in the haze of their crack pipes; prison and/or death are near certainties in their futures. Fazline and the other young women, however, hold out hope for the possibility of escape. The female subjects are interested in finding employment elsewhere and moving away, but they first need to shed the stigma of being from Manenberg.