Doccie puts spotlight on human rights

Somebody displays their love for District Six by touching the sign.

The documentary, Not in my Neighbourhood, which explores displacement and gentrification as well as other important human rights issues in Cape Town, has been four years in the making for film-maker Kurt Orderson.

It was shot on three continents in three major cities, New York, Sao Paulo and Cape Town, where residents are threatened with displacement by gentrification.

“It is an issue that is contemporary, an issue that is current, it is happening right now,” said Mr Orderson. “Gentrification is a real thing, The timing could not have been better to have released this film right now. The film can spark the conversation more, to bring an awareness about it.”

Associate producer, Crystal Orderson, agrees it’s important to show the film to the communities fighting displacement before screening it to a wider audience.

The documentary was screened in the Bromwell Street Park, in Woodstock, and Ponte City’s central core, in Johannesburg, last month. Earlier this month, there was a screening at the Cornerstone Institution, in Salt River.

“It’s a local story of displacement, of people being taken away from their homes, being stripped of their dignity and that is a human rights issue, so it’s trying to say that it is not only happening in Cape Town but in other cities in the world and how spatial violence and displacement impacts on communities which is a human rights issue,” said Ms Orderson.

Woodstock’s Bromwell Street residents are all too familiar with the script – the film tells of their struggle against eviction, to make way for upmarket blocks of flats, and removal to a temporary-housing camp in Wolwerivier, on the city’s outer limits.

Chanell Commando, who speaks on behalf of the residents, said the film highlighted their struggle.

“The documentary that Kurt made is good exposure, especially for people being evicted around this area and it shows what the gentrification does to people, to their lives and how it affects them because it is not easy and it shows people the real story and how our lives are affected.”

Zimkita Booi, an organiser at Ndifuna Ukwazi, a civil rights organisation helping the Bromwell Street residents, said the film showed displaced communities they were not alone.

“This is the time to organise and come together and fight for people’s rights and not sit back and watch our people being displaced again,” she said.

Woodstock resident Michelle Pressend said the documentary had shown the structural violence and disrespect low-income people of colour endured because of market forces and the pursuit of profit.

“After watching this documentary, Woodstock residents cannot be blind to changes that are displacing people that have lived here for years simply because that cannot afford to live here any longer,” said Ms Pressend.

Mr Orderson and his team at Azania Rising productions were taking the doccie to film festivals.

It was screened at the Luxor African Film Festival on March, 19, and there will be screenings at the Human Rights Festival at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg on March, 24 and at the Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in Cape Town and Johannesburg at the end of May and the beginning of June.