Ethnic Film in South Africa: History, Meaning, and Change

  • Gairoonisa PalekerEmail author
Reference work entry


This chapter provides a discussion of ethnic films in South Africa by tracing the historical development of “national” and “ethnic” cinema in the context of apartheid where creative and financial control of filmmaking was controlled by the state and white individuals who acted as surrogates of the state. The chapter interrogates the extent to which the “ethnic film” category can be applied to film productions that represented an inauthentic African worldview, culture, and tradition. It further argues that the categories of national and ethnic have shifted since the democratic elections of 1994 and in the post-1994, context and sectors of the Afrikaans-language film industry have now moved to the margins in what can be described as an “inward migration.” In the process, these films have become decentered and detached from the “national” industry and are now the new “ethnic” cinema in South Africa.


South Africa Afrikaans films Black film industry Cultural nationalism 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Historical and Heritage StudiesUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

Section editors and affiliations

  • Steven Ratuva
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand
  2. 2.Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific StudiesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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