Kiersten Dunbar Chace’s self-produced documentary about a community in Cape Town, South Africa will be seen by millions on South Africa’s national network television, channel SABC2, on Sunday, April 24, 2011. The film, titled I’m Not Black, I’m Coloured: Identity Crisis at the Cape of Good Hope, introduces a deteriorating community, unknown to the rest of the world, living with shame, struggling with identity, and trying to overcome hundreds of years of psychological oppression.
Purchase tickets online for the US premiere at the MInnesota/ St. Paul International Film Festival on April 27th at the MSPIFF website.
Kiersten lives in Bloomington, MN and had traveled to South Africa many times. She was surprised at how the Cape Coloured communities differed from other communities. She learned that during apartheid the South African government defined what it meant to be Black, White, Indian and Coloured and each was forced to live completely separate of one another. Coloured was defined as a mixed race. Officials would determine who was Coloured by following bureaucratic, although arbitrary, criteria. As a result, some families where torn apart. However, after apartheid ended, Kiersten observed a Coloured community where nothing improved. She met people who had denied their ancestry or had no records or knowledge of their ancestry.
After seeing the film North Star: Black Pioneers of Minnesota by Daniel Pierce Bergin, Kiersten was inspired to do something for the Coloured community. She recalls, “I wanted to make a film. I didn’t know how. So, I basically sought out the best documentary filmmakers I could find in the Minnesota area and asked them if they would be willing to mentor me.”
Kiersten’s reason for making the film was to educate those traveling to or investing in South Africa. She said, “I would really like them to know that there are millions of people living in Coloured townships and they should question or make sure that their funds are also being distributed into those communities as well. They’ve just been invisible. Nobody knows they exist.”
In 2007, she approached Daniel Pierce Bergin and documentary filmmaker Melody Gilbert. Both have mentored her throughout the project. Kiersten said, “Having Melody Gilbert and the IFP Documentary Club was huge. They gave me advice, support and confidence.”
The film is making its US premiere as an Official Selection at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. It also premiered at film festivals in Barbados and Bermuda and won the Audience Choice Award. Kiersten said, “I am not expecting any awards. It’ll just be kind of cool to have that special day which is meaningful.” April 27th is also Freedom Day, a South African holiday celebrating the first democratic elections after apartheid. She added, “My hope was that it would not be for the sake of notoriety but for the sake of change.”
Special guest speaker Lesley-Ann Brandt, actress from Spartacus and CSI, will be at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival premiere for questions and answers after the film. Brandt, a native Cape Town Coloured, learned about the film after Kiersten’s son, a big fan of Spartacus, suspected Lesley-Ann was Coloured and introduced the film to her through Facebook.
After four years of learning, filming, editing and networking, Kiersten has seen signs of change. Travel groups that were once unaware are now providing tours into Coloured townships and colleges are making specific trips into the areas.
The Cape Coloured people featured in the film have been reaching out to Kiersten and sharing their excitement about the network debut. She explained, “It’s not so much that they are going to be on national TV but that they are part of a project that is really going to enlighten and hopefully allow the community to be really proud of who they are.”
In the future, Kiersten hopes the film is seen on American television and in universities. To follow the film’s progress and other projects visit Mondé World Films, Kiersten’s production company.
Kiersten recently started a new job as a broker assistant and will not be in South Africa for the network debut due to time and financial commitments.
Kiersten said, “The cool part about it for me, is that I’ve never pushed it. I said, ‘Lord, you know where this film needs to be. The more I’ll push the more they’ll go away. I’m just going to allow you to let this thing do what it needs to do.’”
Visit the film’s website at www.capecoloured.com.