Voetsek! screening sparks dialogue

By maHp intern, Roshan Dadoo







In commemoration of World Refugee Day (20 June), ACMS screened Voetsek! Us, Brothers?, which was a documentary shot telling the in-depth stories of victims and perpetrators of xenophobic violence during 2008 and 2015 in South Africa. The director Andy Spitz was present and around 20 people joined us to watch the film. Spitz mentioned that “the film’s time period added to the individual journey’s of each person, which enabled the viewer to see a variety of changing opinions.” This commitment to tracking the lives of people over time makes for a complex and comprehensive story of the lives of nationals and migrants in our country. Furthermore, Spitz shared her intention for the film as being one that “would force us as the audience to address the stereotypes we have”, as inserts of headlines and government statements illustrated how leaders’ comments exacerbate denialism or inflame xenophobia within communities.

The film invoked great discussion surrounding the effects of xenophobia. While a few audience members expressed some discomfort in watching the film, as it triggered feelings of reliving the attacks, others noted the importance of telling such difficult stories in order to spark conversations about our xenophobic stereotypes that fuel such violence. There was also a suggestion that the film be used to facilitate these discussions in local community dialogues and schools. In response to this suggestion the director offered to cut and edit the film for use in such workshops – making it a living archive for actively exploring the issues underlying xenophobic violence and challenging prejudice.

We also took this opportunity to re-introduce the online Xenowatch platform. Xenowatch is a tool to monitor xenophobic threats and violence across South Africa. A non-proprietary platform, it collates and visualises data collected through media reports, original research, and crowd sourcing of xenophobia-related incidents. Activists, victims and observers can report threats and attacks using four channels: free SMS, email, mobile app, and the website. For more information visit: http://www.xenowatch.ac.za/.