A Voice for the Destitute

By Shannon Wilson

The old woman sits on her makeshift bed in her small broken-down home, made of pieces of wood, brick and plastic. She tells the camera about her story of living in one of Durban’s shack cities on Foreman Road. She speaks loudly into the camera – which is now focused on her dark slightly weathered face – she recalls the day that she was shot six times with rubber bullets by the police and arrested for demanding that her community’s concerns be heard.

This simply depicts one scene from the 2008 film A Place in the City by free-lance filmmaker, Jenny Morgan. Enraged by the injustices she witnessed growing up in Durban during apartheid, Morgan became passionate about helping those less privileged then herself. As a result, she was determined to highlight the issues present in South Africa and other areas of the world today. Morgan addressed these particular issues on 23 February at the African Media Matrix building at Rhodes University.

The film, A Place in the City had no budget and was made while Morgan was on holiday in Durban, highlighting her determination to give those less fortunate then herself a platform to be heard.

Morgan faced different challenges when filming in Algeria for her film Algeria: Dreaming of Democracy. There were officers everywhere. Morgan and her crew were taken to the police station for questioning more than once. The police were dressed in civil clothing and the atmosphere was tense.

The local people did not want to speak to the camera; they looked cautiously around them and then they would whisper, “The SM are with us”, meaning that the police were present. The trips to the police station and the people’s fear of speaking to the camera led Morgan to gather footage of the Algerian town from the top of a mountain in order to ensure that the film could still be made using voice overs.

Morgan showed support for countries in the Middle East when she recently got involved with ‘Artists for Palestine’, which was launched in August 2014. The organization voices its rage against the ongoing brutalities being committed against the Palestinians and the distribution of weapons being passed “under the table”.

Morgan’s success can probably be attributed to her Vivacity and interest in each subject she reports on. To conclude her talk, she left the audience with this poem ‘Ithaka’ by CP Cavafy, which sheds light on her journey as a filmmaker.

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