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‘The King Against Mafavuke Ngcobo’ Re-Imagines 1940 Trial Against Licensed South African Traditional Herbalist by White Establishment

'The King Against Mafavuke Ngcobo' Re-Imagines 1940 Trial Against Licensed South African Traditional Herbalist by White Establishment

Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network (FLAMIN) has announced three new projects by London-based film artists that have been selected to receive development support through the sixth round of FLAMIN Productions.

The three projects, which deal variously with themes as diverse as medicine, human endurance and political scandal, will each project will receive a unique raft of development support, including mentoring, networking, specialist advice and support as well as a bursary of £1,000 (just over $1,000), during a development period of up to 6 months.

During this time, each artist will be offered bespoke support in working up a full budget, schedule and proposal and resolving any feasibility issues before being considered for production support of up to £30,000 (about $33,000) per film.

Of note, one of the 3 projects is “The King Against Mafavuke Ngcobo” by Uriel Orlow, which re-imagines a 1940 trial against a licensed traditional herbalist in South Africa accused by the local white medicinal establishment of “untraditional behavior.” This film will connect with contemporary sites and practices of medicinal plant use, cultivation, distribution as well as questions around bioprospecting and commercializing indigenous knowledge in a global context.

Research tells me that the Mafavuke Ngcobo in the project’s title was a wealthy herbalist in Durban, South Africa, who operated a lucrative mail-order medicine business. Ngcobo got the attention of the white medical authorities who patrolled medical traditions in the country at the time, when he advertised himself as a “doctor.” For “blurring the boundaries between Western and African medicine,” Ngcobo was fined. In protest, he and other vendors formed the Natal Native Medical Association to define their right to practice, serving to increase distinctions between “black” and “white” medicines.

Certainly intriguing, and a project to look out for in the coming year (or years).

The other 2 projects selected are:

– “The Susurluk Scar,” by Karen Mirza & Brad Butler

In 1996 in the town of Susurluk, in Turkey’s Balıkesir Province, there was a fatal car crash. The four car passengers were: a former beauty queen, the deputy chief of the Istanbul Police Department, the leader of the terrorist group the Grey Wolves (also a contract killer on Interpol’s red list) and a high ranking Parliamentary MP (the only survivor). In the car the police found weapons, money, drugs and fake passports signed by the interior minister. Since then three public investigations into the evidence, conspiracy theories and people implicated have linked the police, the government and the CIA, to terrorism and the vast European heroin trade.

– “Damselfish,” by Charlotte Ginsborg”Damselfish” takes as its central character the world record holder for Static Apnea, (the ability to hold one’s breath under water), which stands at twenty two-minutes and twenty-two seconds). This phenomenal feat has confounded scientists worldwide. By combining documentary footage of a dive attempt with fictionalised scenarios, the film will interweave the experiences of the diver with three other characters; a composer and two dancers. The film will investigate, through visual montage, movement and voice, the characters’ abilities to use performance to access heightened psychological states, highlighting the contradictions they experience between the desire to withdraw from life or to actively perform within it.

Details of production awards for Round 6 will be announced in mid 2016.

Find out more about FLAMIN Productions projects.

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