The South African Film Festival features thought-provoking documentary, Good Hope

The film provides perspective on South Africa and highlights the country’s activism and advocacy work

The film sheds light on the past and hope for the future. Courtesy of Anthony Fabian

By: Devana Petrovic, Staff Writer

The South African Film Festival’s (SAFF) virtual event ran this year from November 1 to 12 and featured several award-winning documentaries, featured films, and shorts. Good Hope, a 2019 documentary following post-apartheid movements in South Africa, was one of the SAFF’s hidden gems this year.

Filmmaker Anthony Fabian’s Good Hope looks at the impact of Nelson Mandela’s human rights advocacy in the current political climate and how younger generations are shouldering the historical legacies of racism, corruption, and inequality. More importantly, Fabian uses his film to educate viewers globally on South Africa’s efforts to rebuild a hate-free country, united beyond its history of oppression. 

The film provides a brief look into South Africa’s history of division and racism — which was appreciated for viewers like me, who have a limited understanding of apartheid (a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination aimed at the non-white population of South Africa). Further, Fabian gives political context through various interviews with experts and archived news footage. The chronological structure of the film made it easy to follow as the bulk of the documentary looked at current and future efforts, only understandable once given the perspective of the country’s past. 

Fabian expertly paints a picture for viewers of the current government situation in South Africa, outlining key issues such as the racial division that is systemically enabled by the country’s politicians. Beyond that, he also provides a platform for the activists, workers, and thinkers, who have solutions and who strive to make South Africa’s “new democracy” truly egalitarian. 

Good Hope is an intricately created, informative, and inspirational film. It addresses key issues, while also giving viewers a sense of hope. I appreciated that the film didn’t leave me feeling hopeless (as many documentaries can), but instead made me feel proud of this generation’s advocacy work and its forward-looking perspective of the global community. 

A notion that came up in the film is the dark narrative the rest of the world perpetuates of South Africa, due to the media’s focus on apartheid. Fabian’s Good Hope aims to take down this narrative and rebuild it in a positive light. I found that through viewing this film, many of my own assumptions have been unravelled. 

As Fabian himself says, “Nelson Mandela’s vision of a Rainbow Nation may need to be re-configured [ . . . ] but in essence the message remains the same: what draws us together is not the colour of our skin, but our common humanity.” While there is still a lot of work to be done to heal from the past, Fabian’s film reminds us that there is still “good hope” for the future.