Aryan Kaganof’s film, ‘Night is Coming: a Threnody for the Victims of Marikana’ (above) was commissioned by the HLC network in connection with its conference at the University of Stellenbosch. The film-maker was given a completely open brief. Since then, the HLC committee (Daniel Grimley, Jo Hicks, Carina Venter and Michael Uy) has discussed Kaganof’s film at considerable length. These discussions have often been difficult and painful, and the committee was divided on how best to respond. Carina Venter and Daniel Grimley have engaged with the film in a public colloquium at the University of Oxford, with the film-maker present, and the film has been screened in a number of venues elsewhere. The majority decision of the HLC committee, however, was that the film should not be screened at Harvard because it represented an unbalanced and asymmetrical record of the event itself. Issues of violence, domination, censorship and repression were discussed very widely in the Stellenbosch meeting and were central to its analysis of music and landscape, even though the Marikana massacre was not explicitly mentioned. Carina Venter wishes to record her disagreement with the committee’s decision. Daniel Grimley welcomes the opportunity for further reflection and discussion that Kaganof’s film provokes, and is grateful for his contribution to the network’s wider debates.
I was not commissioned by HLC to make “a balanced and symmetrical record of the event”. I was given an entirely open brief to respond as a creative film artist in any manner I deemed appropriate. The work I made did not deal in a general way with “issues of violence, domination, censorship and repression” but explicitly with the Marikana massacre which was eerily absent from a conference on landscape held in South Africa a year after the massacre took place. HLC’s decision not to screen the film at Harvard served painfully to confirm the film’s critique of the Stellenbosch event.