By Bronwynne Pereira
Guest Blogger

Fool in a Bubble, a film, produced and directed by Joshua Sternlicht, is a contributory piece of documentary narratives that assists us further in understanding the constructions of Whiteness in South Africa.

This film follows the life of Syd Kitchen, who has since the 1970’s participated and created a fusion of music relevant to the contexts of South Africa. [For more on Kitchen’s music, listen to this NPR insert.] In respect this film offers us a view to look into the life of a White South African, who has crossed racial and cultural barriers to seek a transformative way of living through his own position of racial privilege.

Sternlicht–the director/producer of the film–aptly captures the role documentary film can play in the production of memory as it intersects with contemporary constructions of understanding apartheid and this post-apartheid period. Can documentary film act as agency in change? And are documentary films constructed on the premise of providing the viewer with a sense of hope and happy ending narratives? I enjoyed the approach of Joshua as the camera and the direction seemed less intrusive to the flow of understanding the story of Syd Kitchen. From South Africa to New York, this film creates an advocacy narrative as Syd is given opportunities to produce a record. His various public performances and media engagements provides insight to complementary role between filmmaker and subject.

Music is an important fabric in the cultural life of South Africa. So why do many South African artists die poor, lonely and often unsupported? Syd reflects on this question at the graveside of Sipho Gumede. Fool in a Bubble is a great film, well worth watching.

At a time when White South African writer Annelie Botes, publicly expresses her fear of Black people, I am inspired by the life choices of Syd Kitchen. Appalled by Botes who was to receive this year’s Literary Award in SA, Kitchen’s fame comes from this film. He asks no one for rewards for his tireless commitment to singing against the evils of Apartheid.

Further Reading