Educational yet emotional. That’s the way I’d describe Film School Africa. A documentary following South African film students as they not only face the difficulties of a new education, but, also, the difficulties of living in a poverty-stricken community.
Katie Taylor decides to leave behind her “unfulfilling” career in Los Angeles to teach skills surrounding film to students in a township in South Africa. The students here come from different backgrounds, but have plenty in common. One of these qualities is their love for art despite opposition from their families and communities. Most of the children strive to be like those around them, but the students of Film School Africa crave for something different.
As the documentary introduces the students and faces of FSA, the audience quickly realizes that the film explores more than children simply continuing their education. The students use film as an opportunity to share their life experiences, as well as to cope with the trials they endured throughout their childhood. Many of the students face poverty, segregation, abuse, starvation, and retaliation within their communities, but don’t allow it to stop them from pursuing a career in art. As they overcome small adversities in film school, they also overcome large adversities within society.
Opening from a scene in Kayamandi, South Africa, the film comes full circle from beginning to end as it takes us through the lives and processes of the students. Film School Africa teaches us what it truly means to fight for your life to do something you love, while also teaching the importance of growth and understanding.
Written by Amya Mitchell