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Heart of whiteness by Desai, Rehad

In a confronting portrait of post-apartheid South African society, documentary filmmaker Rehad Desai seeks to answer a seemingly simple question; was does it mean to be white in a new democratic South Africa? His journey takes him from his hometown Johannesburg, where whites and blacks live together in an uncomfortable balance, to the white-separatist Afrikaner community of Orania. Along the way he interviews white Afrikaners on their views of the new multicultural society and their sense (if any) of an identity of whiteness.

Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced by the National Party of South Africa from 1948 till 1990. During the apartheid regime citizens were classified into racial groups and accordingly privileged or stripped of civil rights. Although apartheid was definitively dismantled with the 1994 general elections, Desai attempts to explain how, as he has done in Bushman's secret, the historical problematic relation between black and white South Africans sustains to the present.

Social interest
In a series of interviews white Afrikaners from different backgrounds explain how despite their acceptance of apartheid's abolishment they have difficulty in embracing the new political and societal system. This is exemplified in their constant use of varying euphemisms such as 'the transition', 'since 1994' or 'the struggle' when referring to the end of apartheid.

Filmmaker Rehad Desai is often visibly present and has a clear voice in his documentary film. The sustaining effect of apartheid in present South African society seems a recurring theme in his work. Desai is openly involved and his sometimes irritated intonation seems to suggest aggravation about testimonies given by some of the interviewees. He does not seem have a desire to hide the fact that he as an individual filmmaker will, regardless of any attempt to remain objective, undoubtedly influence the documentation of his subject.

Desai, Rehad
Copyright Holder
Uhuru productions
48 min.
Year of release
English, Africaans

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