The People vs Patriarchy, a documentary about the factors underpinning rape culture, toxic masculinity and women’s experiences in South Africa, was released earlier this year, and it’s a gut-punch. The unflinchingly honest account of the state of gender relations in SA explores problems, searches for causes and provokes thought, but doesn’t provide easy answers.
Such is the style of Lebogang Rasethaba (35), the Sowetan-born filmmaker whose last full-length documentary, The People vs The Rainbow Nation, offered an equally searing portrait of South Africa two decades into democracy. It focused on the experiences of students of different races, classes and genders who were involved in and affected by the #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall movements. MTV Africa produced both films.
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“I was a very strange kid growing up – always writing and drawing – so if you consider filmmaking at its core to be about storytelling, then I guess I was always a storyteller,” says Rasethaba. “When I was 21, I made my first documentary. It was about xenophobia, and it made it onto an American online platform called Current TV. That’s when I first realised this could work. Before that, I had done lots of different things, like fashion and journalism, but when I made the documentary I realised the power of film as a medium and I never looked back.”
Rasethaba spent five years in China completing his Master’s in film studies and returned to South Africa with a remarkable skills set and handy fluency in Mandarin. Since then, he’s made his mark on the world of branded content, winning Creative Circle Ad of the Year, working with a range of international brands, and regularly being featured on sites like Highsnobiety, i-D, Nowness and Vice. His Sons of Kemet music video was screened at TED Global in 2017.
Rasethaba’s also completed four feature-length documentaries, including Future Sound of Mzansi and Prisoner 46764: The Untold Legacy of Andrew Mlangeni.
“There’s an intensely creative, unapologetically young and curious energy in South Africa that I sense and subscribe to. It’s infectious, and I point my camera in that direction.”