“You have to be careful how you remember your memories.”
Director Millistand Vongera presents discerning documentary milli stand with this clear declaration. It is an invitation to her poetic meditation on a childhood affected by apartheid violence in South Africa, an invitation and a guiding principle. Under Vongella’s command, memories become a flexible force. They stretch into the past, haunt the present, and creep into the future.
We model how we confront our history and our complex heritage.
Vongera sifted through her memories and collected them along with those of her ancestors and members of the Model C generation, a term used to describe cohorts of children integrated into formerly all-white schools in South Africa. To do. She observes them with a keen sense of responsibility, interrogates them gently, and molds them into gentle, intimate stories. milli stand is a long journey that begins and ends in Transkei, an apartheid project created to accommodate South African disenfranchised Xhosa-speaking blacks.
In a singular way, Bongela, DP and editor Hankyeol Lee piece together to enhance archival footage and map this history. Throughout the film, they explore how representatives of apartheid tried to sell the world the formation of Transkei and other “homelands” (as they called them) for blacks, how the government It records how the Xhosans were moved into these spaces in the early days. And how the inhabitants created their own communities. These montages—gritty, explicit, and sometimes confusing—wrap the screen or are surrounded by whimsical backgrounds (resembling scrapbook pages). Occasionally, they’re backed by soaring orchestral scores or haunting syncopated breathing choruses.
The documentary begins with Vongera’s childhood in Transkai. Through narration, the director recounts how as a child she was given a “proposal meal” and stories that made it seem as though she hadn’t experienced apartheid. , no segregated facility or police attack dog had ever been unleashed on her. I realized that I was not in the middle of an experiment.
Vongera’s language privileged melodies and powerful imagery, transforming the standard exposition into a literary experience.the first of the five sections of milli stand It includes recent footage of Vongella’s grandmother roaming around the house that used to be Transkei, as well as documentary photos from her childhood. Conversations with her elders bring direct confrontation with more complicated nostalgia. Through Vongella effectively establishes either: milli standThe core tension of: How do you combat the brutal historical undercurrents of the place you call home?
This question, perpetual in a world organized around capitalism, leads us to the next section, which battles the formation of Transkei and the propaganda that flourished in Vongera’s youth. Here, the director bends refreshing comfort with experimentation. In a documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where Vongella’s film premiered in the World Cinema Documentary Competition category, milli stand With its freedom and potential, it reflects the highest form.
A sharp transition between past and present constitutes the second half milli stand, is concerned with the encounter between two timeframes and between the self and history. Vongera interviews Model C generation students and juxtaposes their adult restraint with post-apartheid jubilation.NEWS TO BLACK SCHOOL KIDS AND PARENTS Video of her interview reveals layers of racism white broadcasters directed at them. Mandela’s memory is rigorously observed, interrogating the sweeping respect he received at the height of his popularity among black and white South Africans. Vongera also interviews a white South African friend about the role race and apartheid heritage play in self-understanding. Again, Lee and Vongera’s editorial choice (overlaying voice recordings on a black screen) subtly amplifies these conflicts and frictions with history. Vongera appears briefly on screen, reading text about the early days of school integration, unleashing a violent undercurrent of Black children entering these previously immaculate spaces.
milli stand is an ambitious project that attempts to candidly navigate the tangled mess we call identity, respecting its diversity without succumbing to pretense. The film runs for over two hours and is at times dense and overwhelming, swirling with history, painful truths, striking revelations, and Vongera’s poetic meditations. The film’s final act chronicles South Africa’s wider history, focusing on the rituals and cultural heritage of the Xhosa people, and draws us back to the present-day region of what was formerly Transkai. Armed with knowledge generously donated by Vongera, the landscape takes on a different meaning and exudes a more complex energy. Sure, we have mixed feelings, but we’re also left with a gift that’s a model for how we connect ourselves between the past, present, and future.