Liz’s Pick of the Week: Movies with a difference

05 8 May Film Festival05 8 May Film Festival Prog

As the colder weather sneaks up on us, it’s an ideal time to take yourselves off to Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank, the ‘arthouse’ movie theatre.  Until next Sunday 15th May there are showings of 11 foreign films as part of the European Film Festival.  All, except for the award winning British movie Amy (about the life of Amy Winehouse), are subtitled.  There are only 2 showings of each movie so check the programme and the film descriptions  There are documentary and feature films many of which have been selected for awards in their home countries so there’s a wide choice of quality productions.

Robert DevereuxAlso showing is Donizetti’s Robert Devereux, the third in the composer’s trilogy of Tudor Queen operas. I had to check who the other Tudor Queens were and, as always, Google came to the rescue:

Donizetti never thought of his three operas about Tudor queens as a trilogy and scarcely anyone else did either until the soprano Beverly Sills sang them at the New York City Opera in the 1970s. Each with a libretto by a different author, they were premiered over a seven-year period (1830-1837) in different Italian theaters, with different singers as the royal protagonists: Giuditta Pasta (“Anna Bolena”), Maria Malibran (“Maria Stuarda” and Giuseppina Ronzi de Begnis (Elizabeth I in “Roberto Devereux”).   The stories, familiar from both history and literary fabrications, are far apart chronologically. Yet each culminates in an execution — Anne Boleyn’s in 1536 at the behest of her husband, Henry VIII, for, among other things, alleged infidelity; Mary Stuart’s in 1587 because of the threat she posed to Elizabeth I’s rule; and Robert Devereux’s in 1601, for treason. At the heart of each plot are one or more love triangles, whether rooted in reality or invented.  [ Loomis, 17 Sept 2013 New York Times]

Sondra Radvanovsky is the first person to repeat Sills’ 1970s challenge of singing all three of Donizetti’s Tudor queens in the course of a single season.  I recently saw Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly and apart from the extraordinary voices and achingly beautiful sets, the acting was sublime. It’s one of the extraordinary privileges of seeing a film screening of an opera – one can see facial expressions and body language in minute and close-up detail. (What an extra challenge for the performers.)   The preview of Robert Devereux  gives a taste of Ravanovksy’s extraordinary performance as the ageing Queen: poignant, powerful and tragic. Polenzani, the amazing Elīna Garanča and baritone Mariusz Kwiecien all give superb performances.   The last screening is on 19th May so don’t miss it.

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Winter Sculpture Fair – Don’t miss it!

5 1 May Nirox pic
Nirox 013This is MOST definitely Liz’s Pick of the Week. Nirox is the Cradle’s hidden gem. What used to be a trout farm has been transformed into a sublime 15 hectare estate with ponds, weirs, streams, amazing trees and the most wonderful expanse of lawns and verdant landscape.  Started as an artist’s retreat by the philanthropist Benji Liebmann, its access to the public is  restricted to public events – primarily music and art.   But next week-end it’s open to the public for the 2016 Winter Sculpture Fair.

Nirox 014This year’s sculpture exhibition promises to be even more special as Art Logic has partnered with the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to produce A Place in Time with Helen Pheby, the senior curator at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There will be over 40 new sculptures including works by Richard Long, Willem Boshoff, Nandipha Mntambo, Tom Price, Moataz Nasr, Rachael Champion, Anton Burdakov, Tom Price, Serge Nitegeka, Mikhael Subotsky, Angus Taylor and Marco Cianfanelli.  There will be a display of artefacts on loan from the University of the Witwatersrand Origins Centre Museum collection.

The food and wine on offer will be amazing although – be warned – there are likely to be queues at almost all stalls and it doesn’t come cheap. At least 20 Franschhoek wineries will be selling their wines, several of whom will have their restaurants represented such as Boschendal, Glenwood and The Franschhoek Cellar. There are loads of Franschhoek eateries to tempt you with gourmet picnic fare (Café des Arts, La Cotte Inn, Dutch East India Restaurant, Moreson, The Kitchen Maison amongst others) as well as coffee roasters, a cheese stall, and a chocolatier.

Nirox Cianfanelli figIf the cold front has moved on it will be a fabulous way to spend the day out of Joburg in the most beautiful landscape setting (no photos do it justice), with visual delights to explore, wonderful goodies to eat and drink,  and a relaxed fun day with friends and family. And of course – Sunday is, after all, Mothers’ Day.  Get some friends; a picnic blanket; your wallet, walking shoes and a hat;  and … Oh Yes …. don’t forget the mothers!

But do remember to book at Webtickets as they say only tickets will be available at the door.  (R165 per person and children under 12 free). No pets and remember no food and drink may be taken in.


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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Walking the local neighbourhood on a Monday morning is one of the many times my middle class suburban life is put into perspective. I’m not walking long distances to work, I’m not searching smelly dustbins with rotting food, and I’m not pulling a hugely heavy trolley (often for many kilometers) loaded with bags of tin, paper, cardboard and glass. The people that do this are the informal recyclers whom I encounter on Mondays before Pikitup does its rounds (when not on strike!). I am humbled by the work ethic of these informal recyclers and ashamed that people have to do this to eke out a living;  and saddened that residents do not separate out old food and recyclables. Liz at Lancaster has recycled for years and has chosen to go the ‘official’ route using a company to collect our recycling. We do not separate at source as the sorters at the company we use – Whole Earth – do the separation.

The Hawk Flight sorting team

The Hawk Flight sorting team at Whole Earth

Whole Earth Recycling was founded in March 2007 at Cluny Farm where, until 2008, sorting was done by 4 employees. When they moved to Strijdom Park in 2011 they started their community-based project. These community-based sorters, currently 24 of them, call themselves Hawk Flight. They generate an income by sorting and selling the material to local buy-back centres.  So with the admin team, the drivers, the truck assistants (the loaders) and of course the sorters, Whole Earth contributes to job creation by employing around 40 people in total.  In 2014 the Hawk Flight team sorted over 1000 tons of recycling so reducing impact on the environment while also generating income for themselves.

There is loads of research about informal waste collectors in Johannesburg: how they contribute to the reduction of re-usable waste and its disposal; how they find employment opportunities (albeit with meager wage earnings); how they provide low-cost materials to various industries so contributing to a cleaner environment. One such piece of research is a paper entitled ‘Informal waste collection in Johannesburg:  A case study’ by Thea Schoeman and Kasay Sentime (+/-2010). This study was based on a sample of 150 waste collectors in 3 areas: Braamfontein CBD, Newtown and Killarney.

Source: Schoeman and Sentime p 9

Source: Schoeman & Sentime p 9

These specific areas were chosen in order to explore and compare the patterns between a central business district (Braamfontein), an impoverished residential area (Newtown) and a middle-class residential suburb (Killarney).  In addition to examining how this group of people is marginalized and even harassed by local authorities, the study provides stats that demonstrate their harsh conditions of work. Over 50% of waste collectors drag their heavy trolleys to the central sorting area (often an informally designated area) and then to the buy-back centres.


Source: Schoeman & Sentime p 9

Source: Schoeman & Sentime p 9

And for this the income can be desperately low.  They found that the incomes of the vast majority of informal waste collectors ranged from R50 to R2 000 per week, depending on the circumstances. One of the varying factors is location.  The accompanying graph shows that of the sample group 40% earned less than R250 a month and only 24% earned between R451 and R1000. The weekly income of the Killarney informal waste collectors was as much as R2000 a week. This is probably because the suburb of Killarney is one of the higher income residential areas in Johannesburg, probably resulting in more valuable and greater volumes of waste being generated there than in Braamfontein and Newtown.

So next time you throw away dirty tissues and mouldy vegetables along with tin, cardboard and glass – give a thought not only to the working lives of those who have to rummage through your garbage to separate out the re-usables,  but also to the importance of reducing our waste.


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