Forerunners soulfully explores what it means to be black and middle class in South Africa today. At the frontier of unprecedented social change, Miranda, Mpumi, Martin and Karabo are part of the first generation of black South Africans to rise from poverty and join the country's ‘middle class'.
They delicately balance the traditional views of their childhood with the western consumerism that rules their professional lives, selecting and discarding elements from each world to forge a new legacy for their descendants. Forerunners is cinematic and experimental. The film has an ethereal feel; the slant of light signals the presence of ancestral spirits and a new dawn. The gentle motif of the wind throughout the film reminds us that the past is always carried with us. The stillness and dream-like tone allow the viewer to consider the beauty in the ordinary and the impact of each passing moment.
"Middle Class? I'm guilty…"
Tension builds as the characters grapple to find peace with their personal success amidst huge inequalities within the country, and even within their own families. They are not yet rich, but are certainly better off than the impoverished majority. The excitement of heralding a new era lingers, bittersweet.
The internal conflicts facing the characters are emphasised using carefully composed imagery of rural and urban, rich and poor. Empty spaces reflect the narrative and serve to show what has been left behind - the echo of ancestors. Weaving through these images the film suggests the elastic push and pull of a society in a state of flux, struggling to forge a new identity.
Will the values they have inherited become irrelevant in 21st century Africa? Or can their heritage become a propelling force of strength with which to face the challenges to come?
directed by Simon Wood
2011 / South Africa / 52 min / Afrikaans, Sesotho, isiXhosa, isiZulu, subtitles in English and French
Cinematographer: Felix Seuffert
Son : Caitlin Robinson
Editor: Khalid Shamis
Music Composer: Shane Cooper in collaboration with Goldfish vocalist Sakhile Moleshe
Production: Saltpeter ProductionsDelivery Formats
HDCam / Blu-ray / Beta Digi / Beta SP / DVD
Also available with French subtitlesContact Details
210 on Long Street
South Africa 8001
T: +27 (0)21 481 1837
C: +27 (0)79 974 5050
SaltPeter Productionsinterviewed over 300 people to find the four who appear in the film. Forerunners was entirely funded by South African companies and non-profit organisations.Production
Visiting three separate provinces: Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, the film was shot in over thirty different locations during an 18-month period. After the opening night drive sequence, Forerunners was created using entirely natural light. HDSLR cameras give the film a textured, cinematic feel within a relatively limited budget, with the freedom to shoot in unconventional places without complicated gear set-ups.
2011 | Cannes Pan-African Film Festival, CANNES, France, april 2011.
* World Premiere
Summary for official catalogues
That documentary soulfully explores what it means to be black and middle class in South Africa today. At the frontier of unprecedented social change, Miranda, Mpumi, Martin and Karabo are part of the first generation of black South Africans to rise from poverty and join the country's ‘middle class'.
Length: 52 min.
Director: Simon Wood
Cinematography: Felix Seuffert
Editor: Khalid Shamis
Composer: Shane Cooper
Production: Saltpeter Productions