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Controversial 'Fatherland' Documentary Looks At Racism In New South Africa

posted 11 Nov 2013, 09:30 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 11 Nov 2013, 10:16 ]

Controversial 'Fatherland' documentary looks at racism in new South Africa when three white Afrikaans boys spend nine days on a right-wing military summer camp.

SOUTH AFRICA (TIA PRODUCTIONS) -   "Fatherland" is a controversial documentary which looks at the story of three white Afrikaans boys who spend nine days on a right-wing military summer camp in South Africa.

This film explores the fine line between patriotism and racism at the Kommandokorps camps, where young men enroll during their holidays to learn self-defence and basic military training to defend their rural communities from attacks.

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"Fatherland is about three boys who spend their holidays in an extreme right winged camp, military camp in South Africa. We try, the film is about the Kommando camps but we try to tell the story of the Kommando camps through the eyes of the boys who were on it and not through the grown men who were running it . Because we wanted to understand how the Born Free generation of South Africa were reacting to this ideology," said Producer and Director of 'Fatherland' Tarryn Lee Crossman, who lived in the bush Kommandokorps for the duration of the camp.

This is Crossman's first full-length documentary which she decided to make after reading an article about the camps in a South African newspaper.

"I read an article in 'The Mail & Guardian' in 2012 and, about the camp and I found the camps intriguing. Just because I've never heard about them before and I was interested that these things were taking place in 2012 in South Africa. So I wanted to find out for myself exactly what went on the camps and I also wanted to see from a human point of view whether it was possible to change these boys opinions in nine days time," she said.

The camps are run four times a year by ex-military soldiers who fought for South Africa before 1994 and who try to keep the spirit of Afrikaans nationalism alive.

Hungry and tired the boys stay nine days at a tented camp deep in the bush where they are gradually indoctrinated by the old Afrikaans regime and are forced to decide where they fit into the "New South Africa".

The Kommandokorps soon make it clear they are trying to recruit the young generation to support the old regime, fight for an independent Afrikaans country within the borders of South Africa and denounce the 'Rainbow Nation' created after 1994 when Nelson Mandela was elected as the first black president.

Crossman said her stay at the camp was a very complicated experience for her.

"It was a really complicated experience making this film and being in the camps with these men. I think a lot of people have asked me what changed in my mind about Afrikaans people after being on the camp, and it was the opposite of what you would think. I think I went into the camp thinking that, I'm sorry, that a lot of Afrikaans people are racist but I came off the camp with more empathy for a disenfranchised culture. You know. These guys are, like Franz are heartbroken that they fought for something and they have no where to be. You know," said Crossman at the Biosphere inJohannesburg.

Crossman also said that despite Kommandokorps being a minority group within the Afrikaans community, she felt she had to release the documentary in order to bring to light the racism that is still alive in South Africa.

"This film represents a minority group. They are an extreme right winged group called the Kommodokorps who ran the camps. It's not the majority of white Afrikaans speaking South Africans by any means. It's an extreme. You know. So I don't think it represents a majority. That's what I'm saying. But that said the reason why agreed to let the film come out. I was debating whether to release the film or not because of the conflict it was going to cause. I decided to do it because I feel like a lot of the things that were said in the film on a less extreme level are still part of every day life in South Africa. And unless we start owning up to that and debating and talking about it, it's never going to go away if we stay behind close doors."