Milisuthando Unclassified 18+
This poetic, visually striking meditation on growing up under apartheid in South Africa is unlike any documentary memoir you’ve seen before.
“I have to be very careful about remembering my memories,” says Milisuthando Bongela. She grew up in Transkei, a so-called ‘homeland’ created in the 1970s to segregate Xhosa-speaking Black people from South African citizenship. Bongela remembers a middle-class childhood protected from the worst violence and indignities of the divisive legislation, but as an adult, she can glimpse as a “sordid experiment” what her grandmother still mourns as a lost oasis of self-determination. How can Bongela, like so many younger South Africans, reconcile the post-apartheid freedom rhetoric with a more complex and ambivalent attitude to race and belonging?
Ingeniously shifting between past and present, Milisuthando is a sophisticated blend of memoir and social commentary that refreshes our understanding of what it’s like to live through immense social change. As Bongela elucidates through a searing deployment of archival footage, what made South African racial separatism so pernicious was the way it made Black dignity serve white supremacy. And in fraught but captivating interviews with her peers of different racial and class backgrounds, she shows that true reconciliation depends on tough, daunting conversations – even with oneself.
“One of the most formally daring documentaries of the year … The formal experimentation of the film is entrancing and dreamlike.” – Vox