The Sea Point area of Cape Town
reads like a wish-you-were-here postcard... reminiscent of
Robson Street in Vancouver... dullsville. Familiarity is killing
the exotic. Didn’t we come here to de-familiarize ourselves...
move out of the preconception of the world we know so well?
We’re out of our depth and space here. We don’t know the city.
So why do we still tend towards the familiar bars, fast food
joints and Chinese restaurants? We seem to be stuck on our North
American concerns and perceptions.
Cheuk reminds us that today is the International Day for the
Elimination of Discrimination -- on March 21, 1960 police
bullets killed seventy-six black protesters in Sharpeville
Township. Right, we’re in apartheid country. He now takes us to
the Golden Dragon, to introduce us to Onkuen and her daughter
Maylee. It’s almost lunchtime. From the cool reception, I’m
getting the feeling that maybe our host is getting cold feet
about being on this film. I’m getting bad vibes about this… not
David and I are getting bored. I’m more enthusiastic about
finding ostrich jerky than shooting. Off work in the evenings we
stroll the streets feeling like Kafka’s watch or some other
useless thing looking for late night internet-cafes. In daylight
hours, I continue to look for ambient shots... pretending to
know how beautifully the sun will fall while wishing that I
could come close to Nestor Almendros’ poetic intuition and find
the real “music” of this place.
I’m afraid to eat at the Golden Dragon now after filming the
kitchen in action. Tonight we sneak off to have ostrich with
black bean sauce over at Mister Chan’s instead. We head back to Golden Dragon feeling rather guilty. There’s hardly any
customer… now I feel worst.
Finally, we hit Bo-Kaap, the Cape Malay neighborhood... I’m working
intuitively off real people... the space is jiving and we’re all
jamming so much better. Bo-Kaap is full of narrow winding
streets like Quebec City but with pastel colored Arab style
houses that look like giant popsicles. It’s a friendly
neighborhood. People are very receptive to my camera and are
willing to speak openly.
We gun it up to the top of the hill for
lunch at Shereen Habib’s Noon Gun Tearoom. It has a spectacular
aerial view of Table Mountain. We feast on Shereen’s spread of
Cape Malay Indonesian delights.
This morning, we take Onkuen and Maylee on an excursion to Cape
Point. They’ve never been there before even though they lived in Cape Town all their lives. It’s about an
hour’s drive from the city. By the time we get to the Cape,
they seem to be more at ease with my camera and are reflecting
more openly about their lives in South Africa. Onkuen gets quite
emotional at the top and gives us some great personal clips
about identity, loss and belonging. I’m feeling much better now
that we’ve got some good footage in the can. Eat your heart out,