Contemporary conversations: ‘Otelo Burning’

This special section includes a series of conversations in relation to and with the South African film ‘Otelo Burning’ (2011). This Zulu-language film with English subtitles presents young black men searching for freedom through surfing in late apartheid South Africa. Articles by Meg Samuelson and Glen Thompson place the film in dialogue with literary and photographic framings of its beach setting, a cultural history of surfing in South Africa that repeatedly configures itself in relation to Zulu identity, histories of exclusion in the form of beach apartheid, and surfing fiction and film from California and Australia. Three responses – by Bhekizizwe Peterson, Litheko Modisane and David Johnson – spotlight key features of the film, including its problematic presentation of black township life, the limitations and expansive possibilities of its renderings of personal and political freedom, and its partial allusions to the Shakespearian tragedy of ‘Othello’. An interview with director-producer Sara Blecher and actor-waterman Sihle Xaba elaborates on the making and meanings of the film, with particular attention to the collaborative process that informs it. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]

Title:Contemporary conversations: ‘Otelo Burning’
Editors: Samuelson, Meg
Thompson, Glen
Year:2014
Periodical: Journal of African Cultural Studies (ISSN 1369-6815)
Volume:26
Issue:3
Pages:303-361
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
About person:Sara Blecher
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/13696815.2014.941341
Abstract:This special section includes a series of conversations in relation to and with the South African film ‘Otelo Burning’ (2011). This Zulu-language film with English subtitles presents young black men searching for freedom through surfing in late apartheid South Africa. Articles by Meg Samuelson and Glen Thompson place the film in dialogue with literary and photographic framings of its beach setting, a cultural history of surfing in South Africa that repeatedly configures itself in relation to Zulu identity, histories of exclusion in the form of beach apartheid, and surfing fiction and film from California and Australia. Three responses – by Bhekizizwe Peterson, Litheko Modisane and David Johnson – spotlight key features of the film, including its problematic presentation of black township life, the limitations and expansive possibilities of its renderings of personal and political freedom, and its partial allusions to the Shakespearian tragedy of ‘Othello’. An interview with director-producer Sara Blecher and actor-waterman Sihle Xaba elaborates on the making and meanings of the film, with particular attention to the collaborative process that informs it. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]