“If You Have Racist Beliefs, They Want You to Say So at Dinner”: Yaara Sumeruk on Her Doc Short, If We Say That We Are Friends

Filmmaker Magazine | 10/20/2019 | Scott Macaulay
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by Scott Macaulay

Making its world premiere at the recently concluded Camden International Film Festival was New York-based, Argentinian/South African director Yaara Sumeruk’s short doc, If We Say That We Are Friends, which, in a taut 17 minutes, sits the viewer down into the midst of a warmly unusual conversation on race taking place across dinner tables in the Cape Town South African township Khayelitsha. The organizers of Dine with Khayelitsha arrange for relatively well-off South Afrikaners from the city to hear first-hand about life in the townships by joining residents for dinners of African food in their homes. (Formed in 2015, the program has since expanded to townships beyond Khayelitsha.) In this smart and assured short film, Sumeruk, whose work traverses doc, comedy and branded content, utilizes a three-act structure that places the Dine with Khayelitsha program within the broader context of South African discussions around race and inequality while also acknowledging both the strengths and deficiencies of its humanist approach.

Friends - Festivals - Sunshine - Cinema - Mobile

If We Say That We Are Friends, which has been submitted to other festivals, is also being screened now by Sunshine Cinema, a solar-powered mobile cinema that brings activist filmmaking to communities across Southern Africa.

Filmmaker: First, tell us how this short came into being, and when did you first come across the Dine with Khayelitsha program?

Sumeruk - Films - Film - Understanding - Ourselves

Sumeruk: I create films about making the invisible visible and am consistently curious about the potential film has to expand our understanding of ourselves and one another. I came back to Cape Town, South Africa and stayed for four months, after living in New York for over a decade. I noticed how much the city had integrated since I lived there, but more significantly how much it hadn’t. Geographic segregation persists in Cape Town, which I could see weakened understanding locals have of one...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Filmmaker Magazine
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