FARMLANDS: ‘A Festival On The Eyes’
Right from the start, the disorientating camera angle tells us, this is a documentary that isn’t afraid to break the rules. Admittedly Lauren Southern, a English townie looking lass with poker straight blonde hair doesn’t look like your typical journo or reporter more like a china doll but it’s a good point and well made.
Farmlands is basically a three person production about the political turmoil of South Africa, more specifically, whether the government is turning a blind eye to the murder of white farmers. Lauren is far more sophiscated in her presentation of this question. Providing a balanced approach between left and right, this documentary hypothesises the truth will fall ‘somewhere in the middle’.
A fairly balanced approach from opinions, the internet and first hand families, Lauren obtains the truth from the Deputy President of an aptly named party. Black First Land First who admits we are already at war and they blacks have been patient for over four hundred years and are steadfast in their belief that they deserve everything us whites own. This piece de resistance is cleverly planted and credit to Farmlands for being far more tasteful, fair and intellectual than it might have been.
Engaging in its journey with astounding photography, appropriately filtered to suit the mood of course, Farmlands gives us a real flavor of South Africa maximizing the power of imagery. A festival on the eyes. Thought provoking and beautifully placed landscapes. Furthermore, the inclusion of representative artwork from the time add to the authenticity and is testament to the journalistic quality on offer here.
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A ten minute introduction, gives us a welcome and necessary fast paced background story, although a little selective in its facts and equally it’s admissions but the screen play keeps us entertained and channeled through the history in an accessible and enjoyable manner.
The investigation builds and becomes bolder as Lauren confronts the unfair and unchallenged racism against white people. Except this isn’t a joke in a bar miscrustrued and deliberately twisted, this is murder. Black people are killing innocent white people.
The microphone often served only as a prop but a necessary one, if only to remind us that she is actually a journalist and she cleverly paces the interviews from a typical suspicious taxi driver with no evidence to harrowing footage from the wives of husbands murdered in cold blood.
She chose her subjects carefully and presented this case in a beautiful, sensitive and agreeable manner. Yes there’s a few misspelt subtitles which may chip away at some but this girl was out there, walking the ground, speaking to the people and putting together the footage. For an amateur production aside from a staccato accent that takes some getting used to, this is a great inside to the burden of the white man in South Africa today.