STARTS 26 FEB
An artist paints a caricature of South African president Jacob Zuma that provokes a lawsuit, death threats and a massive street protest. Around this incident, Shield and Spear explores a constellation of stories about identity, art, race, and freedom of expression in South Africa, twenty years into democracy.
Shield and Spear features the contemporary South African artists and musicians; Brett Murray, BlK JKS, Zanele Muholi, Gazelle, The Brother Moves On, Yolanda Fyrus, Fokofpolisiekar, and The Smarteez. With appearances by Ferial Haffajee, DJ Invizable, Motèl Mari, Lloyd Gedye, Milisuthando Bongela, Iman rappetti, and Charl Blignaut.
An artist paints a caricature of South African president Jacob Zuma that provokes a lawsuit, death threats and a massive street protest. An Afrikaans musician devises a stage character based on an archetypal African dictator to more freely comment on his community and his country. For a group of designers in Soweto, their fashion creations and style are manifestations of freedom. A photographer dedicates her life to documenting the LGBT community and exposing hate crimes that go unnoticed by the government and mainstream media. While one Johannesburg-based band is overtly political, another band makes a conscious decision to not deal with politics. Shield and Spear explores a constellation of stories about art, music, identity, race, and freedom of expression in South Africa, twenty years into democracy.
The film documents what it’s like to live and work as an artist in this new democracy. It’s a story about what comes after the jubilation and celebration of a newly won freedom when you’re faced with the real complexities of being a “rainbow nation.” Shield and Spear explores the areas where art and politics intersect. It’s a film about creative identity in a place where issues of race, class and history are impossible to ignore.
In Shield and Spear, music and art are a gateway through which to open dialogue about social and political issues of South Africa that resonate in countless other countries around the world. A theme of the film is how the apartheid system still affects younger artists, black or white, working in South Africa today. Given South Africa’s history, it’s only natural that issues of race, identity and cultural heritage impact the work of artists and affect the ways their work is perceived by an audience. Brett Murray, who is white, made a caricature of the black president Zuma and depicted him in what some would judge to be a stereotypical way – thus accusations of racism were inevitable. Indeed, the artists and musicians in this film tackle stereotypes in various ways; some use humor or shock to play with their racial identity; some revolt against their heritage; while others embrace and celebrate it.
“A rebuilding process needs to take place and this country wants to act, to rest of the world, like we’re done rebuilding when we got holes in our ceilings.”
– Siyabonga Mthembu, The Brother Moves On